My first encounter with “Shodo” or “Shu-ji,” Japanese calligraphy was in March, 1937, when I joined the “Shugakudan (Young Study Group) to study Japanese language and culture in Tokyo for two years with 14 teenagers from Colorado and Nebraska. Rev. Kozen Tsunemitsu was the central figure in the educational program. We trained in classrooms at Nichi-bei Home, our dormitory in Nakano-ku under special teachers, including four times per week lessons from judo and kendo masters. For shuji we learned the basic brush and pen writings one hour, three times per week. In two years, we reached high school skill levels in Kaisho, Gyosho and Sosho styles.
After returning home to the United States, I joined Beikoku Shodo Kenkyu-kai under the directions of Rev. Kanshu and Mrs. Hiroko Ikuta in September, 1979. Our training was done by correspondence. Each month we were given three shodo assignments: four kanji (so-sho style); one large single Kanji (creative, free style); and advanced kana poem in hentai and so-sho style.
Presently, I am taking advanced and creative Japanese calligraphy from Mrs. Hiroko Ikuta. I hold the highest rank of “Do-Jin” in both kanji and kana from the affiliated calligraphy organization, Boku-Sei-Kai, in Japan. We participate annually in the New Year shodo exhibition and other special events sponsored by the Boku-Sei-Kai. In this year’s Feb., 2017 New Year’s Shodo Exhibition in Tokyo, I was awarded the Jun-Dai-Sho, the Second Place Grand Calligraphy Award, from Boku-Sei-Kai. This is my first honorable award that I received and I feel grateful to my teachers for their great efforts in teaching me for 38 years. I believe Shodo has been a great challenge and the path that is leading me to life fulfillment, a Buddhist goal.
~ Masami Hayashi