Everyday, I sit across from the sweetest person. She would always smile at me. This is proof that a smile transcends language barriers. So I’d say good morning in Japanese and she would always respond.
Overtime, I learned from another coworker that she wanted to practice speaking English. It was through these attempts to communicate that I learned that she was our school’s Calligraphy teacher. She invited me to come and check out Shodo club (Calligraphy club). When I was able to attend, I was hooked. It was challenging but awesome.
I walked in to find students who had been learning calligraphy for over ten years. Yes, you read that right. These students are dedicated and it showed in the beauty of their work. Everyday they would meet and practice writing using different strokes, brushes and writing surfaces? Not sure if thats the correct word. Sometimes they would use paper, fans, newspaper, cloth and just about anything else you can write on.
While I didn’t go as often as these dedicated students I went enough to progressively get better. The students acted as my teachers and would figure out which word I wanted to write in Japanese kanji and then write an example with the stroke order.
It was difficult at times to decide what to write. For reasons that I can’t explain, it always felt final whenever I was preparing to write a character. I wanted to make sure that it was well written and had meaning to me. Its such a beautiful medium.
Its been months and my schedule has changed so I “guest appear” occasionally at Shodo Club. I talk to the teacher everyday across our respective desks but I rarely go up to do calligraphy. Recently, I went with the Aussie teacher and an exchange student from Mexico to do calligraphy. It was hard to find a new word that meant something to me. But despite the language barriers and lack of vocabulary on my part I found a word that suited. That word is prayer (Inori 祈り).
On most of my work I like to sign my name. So I will leave you with a picture of me practicing writing my name in Katakana.