Get to Know Shodō: An Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Get to Know Shodō: An Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy

Members Only
1.5 hours
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What We’ll Do

Shodō (書道), which literally translates to "the way of writing," is so much more than putting ink on paper.

First introduced to Japan from China in the 5th century, Shodō calligraphy is one of the most profound and celebrated forms of artistic expression in Japanese culture. From ancient times, it has been believed that the work reflects the calligrapher’s spirit, emotion, discipline, and sophistication. True mastery of calligraphy is a life-long pursuit. It requires rigorous training under a calligraphy master’s instruction, endless practice, and a deep understanding of oneself that, along with the sumi ink, is imbued into the paper with each brushstroke. In this live virtual workshop, Japanese calligraphy artist Aoi Yamaguchi will introduce us to the engaging and meditative art form and set us up with the tools necessary to pursue a deeper practice.

We'll start with a journey through the history of Shodō, from its origin centuries ago to its evolution into a modern-day practice. Aoi will share images of her own contemporary artwork, including performative pieces. Once equipped with a basic understanding of Shodō history, we'll move on to practice. Aoi will share what supplies and tools you'll need to get started including brushes, sumi ink, and gasen-shi paper. With these tools, a calligrapher, writes words, phrases, or poems, seeking with each stroke not only beauty in the character’s form and rhythm but also balance between mind and body. During this workshop, Aoi will demonstrate basic brushwork techniques that will help you learn to find that rhythm and balance.

Join us and learn how to write not just for yourself, but from yourself as well.

Where We’ll Be


About Your Host
Aoi Yamaguchi
Aoi Yamaguchi

Born and raised in Hokkaido, Japan, Aoi Yamaguchi was trained to master the basics of calligraphy from the age of 6 and continued to refine her knowledge and skills under the Master Zuiho Sato. She is a recipient of numerous awards including the First Place prize from the Minister of Education at 44th Asahi Calligraphy Nationwide School Exhibit, Superior First Place at 33rd National Students Calligraphy Exhibition, and other supreme prizes at competitive public exhibitions. As a noteworthy event, she was nominated to participate in the group, 4th Hokkaido Elemen­tary and Junior High Students Visit to China in 2000, representing the country of Japan and participating in calligraphy exchange sessions at the Palace of Pupils of China.

Since she landed in the United States in 2004, she has performed and exhibited her works in many galleries, museums, universities, and festivals in the United States, across Europe, and in Japan. Her works show her exploration in juxtaposing the traditional East­ern classics and her contemporary artistic expressions, as well as her unique ambition of transforming the two-dimensional art of Japanese Calligraphy into the art of physical expression through performances. She has collaborated with artists from various disci­plines such as music, sound art, dance, fashion, flower arrangement, cuisine, e-textile, digital media technology, and many others to bring her vision to life. She travels across the world to spread the knowledge of Japanese calligraphy to people through workshops and talks supported by Japanese embassies and foundations. Currently residing in Venice, California, Yamaguchi continues her work on her conceptual calligraphy installa­tions, exhibitions, and performances as she continues to push the boundaries of tradi­tional Eastern classics and contemporary artistic expression. You can see her work on Instagram (@aoi-gm).

What Else You Should Know

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Once registered, you can access the Zoom room for this experience through your confirmation email or Eventbrite account. Atlas Obscura online experiences are recommended for attendees age 13+.

This online experience will be recorded. A temporary link to the recording will be provided in a follow-up email to all ticket holders within 72 hours after the event. Access to this recording will be available for seven days.

We provide closed captioning for all of our online Member Experiences, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

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