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Writing Guide on Saving the Art of Female Expression

Date published: | Lisa Barlow

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The Art of Japanese Writing. A Woman’s Perspective

Rescuing the art that has previously belonged exclusively to women has become a life goal for Kaoru Akagawa. As soon as she found out that her grandmother’s handwriting she affectionately called “scribbling” has in fact originated from kana, which let the female artists express their true feelings, she started her research.


Kaoru was devastated when she realized that the practice has been nearly obliterated from existence as the powers that be tried to wipe out the writing from the women’s everyday lives.

According to the archives, girls in China had always been discouraged from active learning. This is one of the main reasons they invented a writing system, based on the ancient calligraphy, which resembles a unique communication code. In medieval times, most characters in the Japanese alphabet were based on the written tradition. However, educated females were not afraid to come up with a perfect solution. They started using kana and succeeded while doing it. It allowed them to transcribe the words using the phonetical structure. They wrote letters, arranged meetings and assignations, and acted freely on paper. This also encouraged the correspondents to change the content of the messages and choose the right type of response since they had time to decipher it all.

Kaoru managed to record information about the history of kana in a blog that depicted the language in a truly entertaining style. She starts with the insight into the lives of Japanese aristocrats and the way women had to operate within the confines of the court. Though not given the right to express their thoughts, they nevertheless created literature that shines through the centuries.

A Revelation that Can Change the Attitude

Akagawa realizes she has to struggle to keep the script thriving, but her attempts are certainly paying off. She is also certain that this will add up to the general understanding of female art in Japan. We can’t deny the prospects, lying ahead, now that the beauty of the calligraphic script has been laid out before the audience. Although historical facts say women were not actively involved in the political life back in the day, they never missed an opportunity to contribute to the world of art and become pioneers in the area. Kaoru was surprised upon the discovery of the script as much as any other calligrapher, especially when the pieces started falling together.

What she thought were her grandmother’s inventions, turned out to be the style that has been preserved for centuries. It was obvious that kana could not be neglected by the modern writers, who strive to keep up with the female expression in their surroundings. Akagawa found herself engaged in the process as the decoding of the script continued. She is planning to invite specialists to support her campaign and remind people that the characters have been used for many years before they finally became legit.

The researcher confessed that discovering the language was similar to discovering your secret DNA. It was a thrilling experience for a genius of calligraphic writing. Kaoru says that she can trace her interest to the old-time scripts to an early age. When she found out she had massive trouble with deciphering her grandma’s correspondence, she understood there is more to writing than characters that are used daily.

This was a revelation that prompted her to keep the ancient art of kana alive and promote it via different channels. When Kaoru took an educational trip across the country, she realized that her grandmother was never scribbling while she wrote her letters. It was in fact the same language we have been talking about. The kana script allowed women travelers to exchange their impressions regarding historical monuments, castles, and temples, all without getting unwanted attention to their writing.

Although some may call kana a forgotten style that is no longer used by the masses, Kaoru begs to differ and is determined to show the world the true art of calligraphy. She told her fans she is currently using the shodo style, which was pretty much ignored by the major calligraphers in the past. It is an exciting fusion between traditional writing and the new approach to the script. It goes without saying that this type of female art has to be preserved.

Akagawa already gained respect from fellow calligraphers for her ironic style, mixed with acerbic delivery which makes the script even more special. She took a journey into the past which led to revealing the secrets she never knew existed. Now, it is time to let the art thrive in the modern community. Kaoru is the one responsible for the revival, and she seems to be enjoying it.