Calligraphy, or shodo as it's known in Japanese, has been a part of Yoka Satake's life for twenty-five years. The young but talented instructor has spent a good portion of her adult life teaching fellow Japanese the fine art of the ink and brush. But a year spent living in America in her teens left her with a desire to transmit Japanese culture to a wider audience, something she hopes she'll have the chance to do with her new classes aimed at Japan's increasing number of foreign visitors.
While opportunities for calligraphy courses exist in other parts of Japan, Satake combines both traditional and modern approaches to shodo in a conveniently-located classroom a stone's throw from the Yotsuya metro station. (Yotsuya is merely a five minute ride from Shinjuku on the Chuo Line.) Those who want to take the more traditional approach should book one of Satake's hour-long shodo workshops. Participants will be introduced to various Japanese characters, both from the easier hiragana and katakana alphabets as well as more complicated kanji. Students can attempt to recreate the characters using both pens and eventually brushes. Satake can even create specialized kanji for each participant's names, which students can then use to create personalized name cards or products like T-shirts.
For those eager to enjoy calligraphy from a more modern perspective, Satake offers a unique “air shodo” experience. The technique, originally designed by an engineer from Hiroshima Prefecture, combines computer technology with the ancient art of calligraphy. Participant use their entire bodies to “write” a character or letters that appear on the screen as they are perceived by the computer’s sensors. The result looks much like interpretive dance or a choreographed tai chi movement. The combination of physical movement, 21st century technology and the written word make this a unique way to experience shodo that can’t be found anywhere else.
Satake also offers online shodo courses, for those who hope to experience calligraphy but must rely on distance learning. Her hour-long Skype sessions are more than just a lecture, as the technology allows Satake to immediately provide feedback on student's written work.
Participants can book individual courses or choose to experience a variety of methods in back-to-back classes. Satake's patience is limitless, and even beginners will feel at ease with her. A calligraphy course in central Tokyo is the perfect addition to any traveler's itinerary.