Authentic Japanese Calligraphy Box Set

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Envoke a new means of harmony and communication into your life with this unique and completely handcrafted Japanese calligraphy set

Mutual Moral & Materials

2022.6.2

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Envoke a new means of harmony and communication into your life with this unique and completely handcrafted Japanese calligraphy set

Mutual Moral & Materials

2022.6.2

Story

In Japan there is a concept of "michi" (道) often meaning road or path, where the kanji character is used for tea ceremony (茶道), flower arrangement (華道), judo (柔道), and kendo (剣道). It is so much more than just learning techniques or skills, it is about how to move your body, how to handle the tools, starting and finishing, how to show respect to the other person, etc. Cherishing the sincerity of the heart. Basically, it is a place of learning to live as a person.

 I noticed that the calligraphy box set that many of the adult students would use were the exact same ones made for children that you buy in elementary school. This was something disappointing to see.

I searched all over but just could not find a nice box set anywhere. “If there isn’t one, let’s make one!” So when I made up plans for a calligraphy box set that would be suitable for adults, I got a big response and support from people, some even saying they wanted to start up calligraphy again using this box set.

Then I started hearing people from other countries also saying how they thought calligraphy looked cool and that they wanted to try too, but didn’t know what sort of supplies they needed. So I started to think how about I’d like to introduce this calligraphy box set to foreigners too and have them experience the comfort and pleasantness of calligraphy.

Today we are surrounded by a lot of information and are busy every day. As technology advances and everything becomes more convenient, the brain actually feels more exhausted even if things are physically easier to do. This might be why many people are looking for healing and comfort in yoga, meditation, and Zen teachings. In Japan, calligraphy is also considered something to create calmness. Calligraphy is so much more than just writing practice.  For example, while arranging the brushes, inkstones, sumi ink sticks, calligraphy paper, etc., one by one, you gradually shift away from all the thoughts in your head, and the rhythm of rubbing the ink stick calms your breathing. Then once you start writing your breathing adjusts again, and the comfortable tension and black-and-white graciously unravels your mind as the sound of the brush running along the paper and the scent of ink takes you into even further relaxation and enjoyment. When you have finished writing you put the tools back in their place, and once there is nothing on the table, you will find a new and refreshed you, your work, and your calligraphy kit quietly dazed.

Japanese calligraphy is when you write letters or characters with a brush, which uses a special ink stick (“sumi”) that you can adjust its density/boldness with water. The brush itself is very expressive. Depending on how it is used it exhibits a variety of expressions.


For example, “kasure”, a more harsh scratch looking drybrush streak is one of the most dynamic, greatest features in Japanese calligraphy. By having these strokes, it can express many different feelings and emotions such as a sense of movement and force, happiness or loneliness, even joy or anger. 


Another feature is “nijimi”, a completely different technique that creates the ink to naturally bleed. Depending on the property of the paper and the thickness of the ink, you will get a completely different expression and look. You can express warmth and coldness, softness and hardness, and some people even sense the passing of time or seasons, weather, and brightness. Just like any other piece of art, each person is able to both express themselves and perceive it differently. How do you interpret it? What sort of impression does it leave?
               And with that, let's get to writing characters!

This is the kanji (Chinese character) for "cloud" (“kumo” in Japanese). It is necessary to practice like this, but even though you only black ink, you will be surprised at all the various expressions you can give off with the same character. Already, it is art.

 

There are three types of characters in Japanese; kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana, and katakana. Among those three, there are many characters that have the same pronunciation but use different kanji to create a word. So for the name Noah for example, you can use some kanji characters you like to create the name like 乃亜 or 野阿. It is also fun making business cards with the name you wrote yourself.

【 細筆・太筆 】 - Fine Brush / Thick Brush -

The brush is one of the leading tools in calligraphy. There are many types of brushes, such as soft, stiff, long, short, etc., which you use depending on the expression matter and personal taste. Using each of them to learn about their characteristics and features, finding a brush that suits you best is one of the joys in Japanese calligraphy. For this project, the brushes I chose for the set are standard brushes that are easy for anyone to handle and allows one to frankly express themselves. It includes a thick brush that allows you to write large characters/letters and thick lines, and a small brush that you can use when you want to create smaller characters/letters for things like letters to someone.


【 硯 】 - Inkstone, “Suzuri” -

An inkstone is a tool in calligraphy that creates ink by adding water to a solidified ink block while rubbing against it. Since the inkstone produces a good amount of ink, it is almost like it is bottled liquid ink in itself. Inkstones are made by carving out natural stones one by one. In recent years, there are many cases where light plastic inkstones are used because they do not break even if dropped, but since you cannot grind against the solid ink, we decided to use a naturally made inkstone for this project.


【 墨 】 - Ink stick, “Sumi” -

There are two types of ink, solid and liquid. The solid ink is a collection of soot that has hardened and takes a good amount of time and effort to be made which is why it is a bit more expensive than its liquid form. Even when using it, you need to grind it against an inkstone until you get the right concentration while adding water. It takes a bit of time to prepare before you actually start writing. In that respect, the liquified ink is already a liquid, so it can be used immediately and is more convenient when you need a large amount of ink. However, there is a slight difference in expression between the ink produced from grinding solid ink and liquid ink which is due to factors like the grain/particle sizes. It is said that the solid ink creates a deeper and more interesting finish.

*This set does not contain ink.


【 水滴 】 - Calligraphy Water-Dropper, “Suiteki” -

The “suiteki”, a water-dropper is a water dish used when grinding/rubbing the ink stick ink or to adjust the density of ink in Japanese calligraphy. To have good water-droppers their appearance and shape are very important, but it is essential that you are able to control the amount of water poured. The dropper included in the box set for this project is made by a potter, so not only will fit comfortably in your hand it has a proper pour allowing you to control the water drop by drop. It also looks like a cute little milk pitcher that you would want to collect.


【 半紙 】 - Japanese Calligraphy Paper, “Hanshi” -

This is also an indispensable item for calligraphy, it is called “hanshin” and it is the paper used when writing calligraphy. A size of 243mm x 333mm (9.5" x 13") is typical, and there are many types such as ones made in Japan, made in China, hand-made and machine-made, easy to bleed (like for the nijimi technique), etc. We have decided to include Japanese-made calligraphy paper for this project which is very easy to write on. While Western-made paper is also very easy to use, it does not absorb moisture as well which makes it hard to dry completely and handle once you have finished writing. In addition, smooth paper does not easily give off the brush's characteristic "kasure”, the drybrush streak look. It will allow you to write clear and sharp characters, but it will lack the known appeal.


【下敷き 】 - Underlay Pad, “Shitajiki” -

The brush used for Japanese calligraphy contains a fair amount of ink, and since the “hanshin” paper is very thin, the ink will bleed through onto the table or floor and the paper will tear if you do not lay anything underneath it. So you use this “shitajiki” pad to prevent that from happening. The underlay pad that is included in the set is made of felt. A pad made from felt has the trait of having a sturdy weave, has a hardness to it, and is less likely to wrinkle which is very important to be able to produce the look you want when writing. Although it is a material that does not easily wrinkle, you can easily put it away by rolling it up rather than folding it.


【 文鎮 】 - Paperweight, “Bunchin” -

The “bunchin” is used to prevent the paper from moving while writing, essentially a paperweight. They come in many shapes and kinds, like metal ones made from iron or brass, glass, resin, etc. The paperweight we have prepared this time is made using Japan’s representative tree, the cherry tree. Since it contains lead, it has some weight to it despite how it looks playing the role of a proper paperweight. This simple paperweight has a gentle scent of wood which heals the soul.


【筆置き】 - Brush Rest, “Fude-Oki” -

You use the brush rest as a holder for the brush before writing or when you want to set down your brush while writing. It is made of wood making it light, manageable, and a lovely appearance. A great point to this rest is that it allows you to set two brushes on it. This is also made of cherry tree wood, adding to the beautiful relaxed feeling.


【 筆巻 】 - Roll-up Brush Holder, “Fude-Maki” -

A roll-up brush holder is originally used to carry a used brush and is made by connecting strips of bamboo with a thread. Also to protect the brush from getting damaged and keeping the tips straight, it is made according to the brush’s thickness and shape. It is designed to wrap up. The holder is designed to be rolled up, so after using the brush, wash it well and dry it thoroughly before wrapping it up in the holder.


For the set, you get a beautiful paulownia box to keep all your calligraphy supplies in. We have prepared four colors and a story for each of the boxes.

Black (Rain That Falls at Night)

The rain that falls quietly in the middle of the night seems to wash away various idle thoughts and feelings, almost resetting you into a new self. There is a similar feeling in the flow of Japanese calligraphy, from setting up to cleaning up. We took that feeling and put it into a jet black box that looks like it was wet in the rain. We hope you enjoy it as a type of scenery in your room as well.


White (Fresh Snow in the Early Morning)

On an early winter morning, when you see pure white, untouched snow that has piled up over the night, you sense new freshness as if something is about to begin. Even in calligraphy, when rubbing the ink stick and having a piece of white calligraphy paper in front of me, I feel that same freshness and clarity every time. With the hope that we can briefly start fresh, leaving the good and bad and concentrating on the now, we made a white calligraphy supplies case with a special coating that resembles powdered snow.


Earth (Forget-Me-Not Flower)

I think there are many things that are often too close to us to be seen. The earth we live on is one of them. I have heard that while in space, astronauts are often deeply moved by the beauty of the earth, but it is not like we as regular people can go to space so easily. However, I think that by just imagining something, you are still able to see it clearly. Calligraphy requires the imagination to shape the worldview of words. It is like the act of seeing something you actually cannot. So with that in mind, we created a blue case that reflects the image of the earth. The countless number of white dots on the blue box will stir your imagination each time you look at it.


Moon (Bay Laurel)

The moon continues to always orbit the earth showing everyone its various expressions. In reality though, the size and shape of the moon itself actually does not change, its appearance changes depending on the position of the sun and the earth, with the sun lighting up different regions of the moon creating its different phases. In short, depending on how you perceive something your feelings will change. In calligraphy too, while writing the same characters with the exact same movement, there is an aspect where notice that you feel differently than you did the day before, from the week before, and are able to realize yourself in the now. In order to adjust and improve oneself, we think it is important to know who you currently are as a person. With that in mind, we made a moonlight calligraphy set box. Just looking at it gushes inspiration.

There are two levels of the basic set, a shallow box and a deeper box.

The brush rest, water-dropper, and paperweight go inside the smaller, shallower box along with the removable insert board.

You get a refreshing swift scent of natural wood when you open it up every time. Just looking at it is will make you feel better. Supplies that are made of natural materials will casually become a part of your calligraphy life.

◆ Box size: W 323mm x D 116mm x H 119mm (12.7” x 4.6” x 4.68”)

◆ Materials: Box - paulownia, paperweight and brush rest - cherry blossom wood, removable insert board - camphor tree wood, water-dropper - porcelain

◆ Coating: Special Polyurethane wood finish

*Since natural materials are used, including the insert board, please be aware that the grain is different in each item.

The box will perfectly fit in this azuma cloth bag.

Japan has given its heart and mind to the moon since ancient times. This is why there are a number of names and words in relation to it. Another word for the full moon is “mochi” (望), and the new moon is also called "tsuitachi" (朔). “Mochi” means “to be full”, and “tsuitachi” means “beginning”, both representing a cycle. It is with that we made a black and white azuma cloth bag to wrap up the important calligraphy box. Made of durable canvas, it has a chic appearance with a small crimson touch.

Size when unfolded: W 500mm x H 500mm (19.6” x 19.6”)

Material: No. 11 canvas

*A string is attached to the center to keep the bag closed.

We’ve prepared a video example of using the calligraphy set!

This is just a single part of it. We will provide backers who get the box set with a site address for the example. So we hope that you all are excited for that! Japanese calligraphy has continued to become very popular with those all over the world. However, figuring out how to write yourself is a difficult hurdle for many of those who do buy the supplies. But if you have this box set and example, you should be able to start today! So we hope that you are able to calm your heart and mind, and relax while confronting yourself.

- Preparation -

1. Take out the underlay pad and roll-up brush holder from the bottom box and lay out the underlay.

2. Take out the inkstone, paperweight, brush rest, and the ink stick from the top box and set them next to the underlay.

3. Place the brush on the brush rest.

4. Add some water to the water-dropper.

5. Pour water little by little from the dropper on the inkstone and grind/rub the ink stick.

6. Place a piece of calligraphy paper on the underlay pad, then the paperweight on the top corners to prevent the paper from moving.

7. Start writing making sure there is plenty of ink on the brush.

8. Lay the finished paper on something like a newspaper and let it dry.


- Clean up -

1. Wipe off the remaining ink on the inkstone on a piece of paper (like a piece of calligraphy paper that you made a mistake on), wash it with water, then let it dry.

2. Wash the ink covered brush in a glass of water until clear.

3. Put the inkstone, paperweight, brush rest, and ink stick in their usual place in the top box.

4. Roll the brush up in the brush holder (please make sure the brush is completely dry).

5. Wrap up the underlay pad.

6. Put the roll-up brush holder and underlay pad in the box that goes on the bottom.

We aim to create products that show the creators’ faces.

These supplies are made by craftsmen and writers in Fukui and Toyama prefectures.

The woodcarver Kazunori Ichihashi creates the paperweight, brush rest, and insert board. Starting off with transoms and Buddhist statues, from traditional to modern, Ichihashi has experience doing an extensive variety of wood carving works, creating something that is sincere, warm, and personal.

The porcelain water-dropper is made by Manabu Tanaka, an active potter in the port city Mikuni in Fukui prefecture. Tanaka is gaining popularity for his unique character and worldview that came from being in the Department of Architecture. Please get the full sense of how well this water-dropper allows you to control its water flow as you work.

The two-tiered box is made by Keizou Urata from Urata Co., Ltd., who mainly manufactures paulownia boxes in Takaoka City, Toyama prefecture. For requests for detailed measurements and specification changes, he is a reliable craftsman that responds promptly and throughly. It is Urata that made moving forward in making of the calligraphy box for this project possible.

The one responsible for the azuma cloth bag that holds the box is Rieko Kataoka of KATA+. She makes things using canvas and is active in various craft exhibitions and events, solo exhibitions, etc.

The calligraphy box is painted by MARUHIRO SPRAY’s Yasuhiro Hirose. He works with urethane resin coating in Kawada, Fukui Prefecture, the producing are of Echizen lacquerware, and continues to explore unique expressions that are different from traditional/regular “urushi” lacquer. Without MARUHIRO, the calligraphy box’s image and beautiful look would not be what it is.

Then, for brushes, roll-up brush holder, inkstones, ink stick, ink, and underlay pad, you have the cooperation from a book store in Nara prefecture, Sasakawa Bunrindo. Sasakawa Bunrindo is a long-established bookstore on Sanjo-dori in Nara, and has been making traditional Nara brushes for over 160 years as well as having a large selection of calligraphy supplies.

1. Early Bird Special Full Set with Black Bag  20% Off (Limited Number: 20 Sets)

・Calligraphy box (two-teared box with lid, brush rest, paperweight, water-dropper, insert board)

・Tools/supplies set (thick brush, fine brush, roll-up brush holder, inkstone, ink stick, underlay pad, calligraphy paper)

・Azuma cloth bag (black)

・Example (URL)

❖Choose box color from the 4 colors: black, white, earth, and moon


2. Early Bird Special Full Set with White Azuma Bag  20% Off (Limited Number: 20 Sets)

・Calligraphy box (two-teared box with lid, brush rest, paperweight, water-dropper, insert board)

・Tools/supplies set (thick brush, fine brush, roll-up brush holder, inkstone, ink stick, underlay pad, calligraphy paper)

・Azuma cloth bag (white)

・Example (URL)

❖Choose box color from the 4 colors: black, white, earth, and moon


3. Kickstarter Special Full Set with Black Azuma Bag   15% Off (Limited Number: 50 Sets)

・Calligraphy box (two-teared box with lid, brush rest, paperweight, water-dropper, insert board)

・Tools/supplies set (thick brush, fine brush, roll-up brush holder, inkstone, ink stick, underlay pad, calligraphy paper)

・Azuma cloth bag (black)

・Example (URL)

❖Choose box color from the 4 colors: black, white, earth, and moon


5. Kickstarter Special Full Set with White Azuma Bag 15% Off (Limited Number: 50 Sets)

・Calligraphy box (two-teared box with lid, brush rest, paperweight, water-dropper, insert board)

・Tools/supplies set (thick brush, fine brush, roll-up brush holder, inkstone, ink stick, underlay pad, calligraphy paper)

・Azuma cloth bag (white)

・Example (URL)

❖Choose box color from the 4 colors: black, white, earth, and moon


5. Box Set   15% Off (Limited Number: 50 Sets)

・Calligraphy box (two-teared box with lid, brush rest, paperweight, water-dropper, insert board)

・Tools/supplies set (thick brush, fine brush, roll-up brush holder, inkstone, ink stick, underlay pad, calligraphy paper)

・Example (URL)

❖Choose box color from the 4 colors: black, white, earth, and moon


6. Azuma Cloth Bag   15% Off (Limited Number: 100)

・Azuma cloth bag (choose either black or white)

Shipping

Shipping fees are not included as part of your Kickstarter pledge.

Shipping will be calculated and collected after the campaign ends (using PledgeBox).


Care Methods and Precautions

- Brush -

Wash the used brush with water, dry it well, and put it away in the roll-up brush holder.

If you put the brush away while it is still wet you risk the chance of it getting moldy and damaged. So please make sure it is completely dried.

- Inkstone -

Thoroughly wash the used inkstone with water. If you put the inkstone away leaving the remaining ink on it, that ink will harden and the next time you use it, the solidified ink will come off and mix with the new ink resembling residue.

- Sumi Ink Stick -

Just a caution, it is extremely difficult to remove ink from clothing. While writing calligraphy, be careful not to wear or have anything that you don’t want stained or ruined nearby. Once it dries it will not come out.

- Underlay Pad -

Please do not wash the underlay pad with water. If you wash it with water or fold it to store, it will create a crease that will make it difficult to write nicely and evenly. When the pad is not in use, roll it up to store.

- Azuma Cloth Bag -

When new, the fabric is a little stiff so it may be a bit difficult to tie. But it does get softer and easier to handle the more you use it. You can wash it with water, but it will lose its tension and shrink a bit. You can restore the tension of the fabric bag by ironing.


Message

Culture is backed by history and is seen as having a very important element in human activity. We are always thinking about how to make the world more enjoyable and how to make use of its wonderful essence in the present age. We started this project with the hopes and desire for people all around the world to know, feel, and utilize the culture of Japanese calligraphy. We are sure there are many people that are under the impression that calligraphy is difficult and time-consuming. And yes, in today's busy world it might be a bit of a hassle. However we feel that it is within that inconvenience that there are a ton of important things. And then there is writing characters/letters by hand. We think that it is about knowing who you are and touching the story the characters hold. But these are things you feel the first time you try. In order to make it even more possible to touch such a wonderful world, we decided to create equally wonderful calligraphy tools and supplies!

There must be something important here since we are in the day and age where immediate results and answers are required. So how about continuing to live in the now and start your new calligraphy journey with someone close to you!

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This is an All or Nothing project. This project will be funded if the amount of money raised exceeds its target amount.

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Mutual Moral & Materials

Culture is backed by history and is seen as having a very important element in human activity. We are always thinking about how to make the world more enjoyable and how to make use of its wonderful essence in the present age. We started this project with the hopes and desire for people all around the world to know, feel, and utilize the culture of Japanese calligraphy.

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