Brush strokes bring black and white to life


To celebrate the start of 2023, the Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation is holding its annual like this (Japanese calligraphy) exhibition at the National Art Center, Tokyo, in Minato Ward this month.

The 71st Dokuritsu Sho Exhibition will display some 1,900 expressive works in the spacious hall, offering visitors an unusual atmosphere of only black and white. The organization’s works are characterized by free expression and creativity, making them more like contemporary art than calligraphy. Works of various sizes, some as large as an entire wall in an exhibition space, radiate dynamics such as rising and falling tensions, heaviness and lightness, wetness and dryness, and softness and hardness, allowing viewers to feel different emotions.

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The foundation has about 2,200 members who are independent sho artists and enthusiasts from Hokkaido to Okinawa. The foundation’s openness and freedom, with an emphasis on individuality and creativity, is a stark contrast to many other sho schools that value different styles. This hallmark is based on the philosophy of the founder, Teshima Yuhkei, a very prominent calligrapher in Japan who has made a great contribution to the worldwide promotion of sho. He founded the foundation in 1952 as a non-profit organization with a mission to create a new form of sho that can be appreciated internationally based on unique Eastern traditions.

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Part of the exhibition shows works by foundation members and associate members. The jury members of the Foundation award three prizes for outstanding work by these artists. Another part is for the work of both members and non-members. Five prizes are awarded to outstanding works in this category. Submissions from non-members between the ages of 18 and 23 that receive high ratings will receive a special prize. A third is reserved for smaller pieces submitted by enthusiasts aged 15 or older, who are also eligible for prizes. Finally, this year’s event will feature a separate room for a special exhibition titled “Showcasing Dokuritsu’s heritage, special large works.”

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For the third year in a row, presentations by leading calligraphers in Japanese with English interpretation, as well as the calligraphy workshops, have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. However, the exhibition continues to stimulate the imagination of visitors and provide space for reflection.

With the exception of January 17, the exhibition can be seen daily until January 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance is free.

Visit for more information about the Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation.
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