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Introducing the Techniques of Japan's Ink Artisans!

This video, titled "Japanese ink artisan/Interview - IS JAPAN COOL CRAFTSMANSHIP(墨職人)," was created by "ANA Global Channel."
The video shows the process of creating the inksticks used in Japanese calligraphy.

Japanese calligraphy is well-known both in Japan and overseas as a hallmark of Japanese culture.
In Japanese calligraphy, ink is, of course, essential.
Japanese calligraphy has a rich history, dating back more than a thousand years.
The reason why works of calligraphy from such a long time ago can be appreciated even now, is the incredible skills of the craftsmen who created the paper and ink used for them.

The traditional techniques for making high-quality ink have been passed down for generations.
In the video, one ink artisan explains his craft, and you can see the entire inkstick-making process with the artisan pouring his heart and soul into his creations.

The Process of Creating Inksticks

The main material used in the ink for both Japanese calligraphy and as a dye is the soot and glue collected after burning oil.
Pine resin and charcoal are occasionally used as well.
The very best craftsmen carefully select materials in order to create the highest-quality inksticks.

To create the ink, first the soot is dissolved, then mixed and kneaded well with the glue.
Following that, the mixture is inserted into a mold and left to harden.
During this process, the artisans’ hands are stained completely black.

The hardened mixture is left to dry for one to a few months, then polished and shined to create the final product.
This process can be seen from 2:43 in the video.

Where to Buy the Inksticks Shown in the Video?

In elementary schools in Japan, calligraphy is a compulsory subject for practicing penmanship.
Therefore, Japanese calligraphy instruments and inksticks are readily available.
Besides the solid inksticks, there is a liquid variation known as "bokuteki" (墨滴), as well as other variations.

Popular companies such as Kuretake (呉竹) and Kaimei (開明) offer various inksticks at reasonable prices.
For those thinking of starting their Japanese calligraphy journey, go for these affordable materials.
Japan's inksticks have the distinguishing feature of not fading over time.
However, because of that, if clothes are stained by the ink, the stain will not disappear even after washing, so do be careful.

Summary of Japan's Ink Artisans

Image of calligraphy
Photo:Calligraphy

As seen from the video, the ink used in Japanese calligraphy is created through the painstaking work of craftsmen.
The art of writing words beautifully with a brush and ink is a tradition the Japan prides itself on.

From 6:19 in the video, rare colored inksticks made using natural ores are shown as well.
If you're interested in Japanese culture, why not try purchasing inksticks and other necessary materials, and give Japanese calligraphy a try?

Written By
Sep. 15, 2020
Japan
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
A First-Rate Ink Craftsman Who Makes the Ink That Is Absolutely Essential for Calligraphy. With a History of More Than 1,000 Years, the Techniques for Making High-Quality Ink Aren't Learned in a Day...
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