By Charity Chukwu and NUU Hightower
Charity: As part of the Kakehashi Exchange program, a group of college students from Japan came to meet the Japanese Plus program as a way for them to advocate for Japan. They made a beautiful powerpoint about the prefecture where they go to school, and then presented with six different stations, each with a different aspect of Japanese culture. One of the stations was about Japanese calligraphy—stylized. First, you would choose to have your name written in either katakana or kanji. One of the students would write it first, then you would write it.
NUU: The paper itself was really thin and the ink could easily seep through it. However, the technique they did was put one blank sheet first, then the paper you write on above it. Once you’re done writing, they’d put another sheet on top of the written paper and apply pressure on the ink to dry it off. I was able to take the written papers home without having it look so messy with ink. It almost looked like it was printed in fact, it was that neat..!
Charity: It was one of my favorite stations. Even WRITING can look like art! I chose katakana, and my name looked amazing! I tried to do it the exact same way as the demonstration, but I put too many strokes with my brush, so it made a small tear in the paper… Whoops! I still love it though, and definitely plan on eventually framing it.
NUU: My thoughts on the presentation were similar; really fun..! I remember learning calligraphy in Chinese classes, so I thought to maybe try it out again here since I liked it so much. I wrote my name three times, although the third time was unintentional. It was because one of the Japanese students was telling me something but I couldn’t hear it that well so I asked “Moo, ichido?” to repeat herself. She kind of mistook it as wanting to write again and handed me another sheet, but I didn’t try to protest since I wouldn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Other than that small awkward moment on my end, it was nice meeting the students and learning of their station!
Charity: Afterward, I had a thought-provoking conversation with the student who did the calligraphy with me. She was telling me about how schools in Japan still teach calligraphy as a class. It reminded me of when my elementary school teachers would teach cursive writing. I told her that, nowadays, it’s rarely expected for a child to know how to do it, but I wonder if it would hold any benefits if it were still a general class in present-day schools.
Imagine learning how to write like in cool calligraphy art!
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