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Calligrapher Souun Takeda – To enjoy calligraphy

Calligrapher Souun Takeda
- To enjoy calligraphy

Calligrapher Souun Takeda
Kanagawa Prefecture

Coming to the Shonan area

Souun Takeda is a well-known calligrapher for his various activities including appearances on TV. He has a studio and gives lessons in the Shonan area in Kanagawa Prefecture.
”You’re originally from Kumamoto. Why did you choose this area?” asked Nakata. ”To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I wanted to become a calligrapher. Takeda’s reply was surprising.
He studied calligraphy under his mother, Souyou Takeda, a calligrapher. One would get the impression that he was meant to be a calligrapher. But in reality, after graduating from the science department of an university, he worked in sales. He then decided to start on his own and found a large old house.
”I fell in love with the house because I could see a lot of work done by artisans. I immediately wrote a letter of resignation to my employer when I found the house,” Souun-san said as he looked back. He then started his activity as a calligrapher, teaching calligraphy and giving calligraphy performances on the streets.

To teach and to learn

Apart from carrying out creative activities as a calligrapher, he communicates with his students in his classes. He places emphasis on ”having fun” in his classes. He wants his students to be excited to learn calligraphy like sports or music. One would expect to start with the basics, moving on to advanced class, then finally on to original work when learning calligraphy. But in Souun-san’s classes, he teaches them all at the same time.
”It is difficult to determine whether a ’sho’ is good or bad. One can write very neatly or write with much originality. Calligraphy has a broad range and there is always room to study,” he commented. He would sometimes hold a ”bad writing” contest in his class. It is a contest of who can write the worst, literally. He would have his students challenge themselves to write without referring to the text.

Souun-san told us that he learns from teaching his students. ”For example, foreigners are impressed with the color of red ink. There are things you don’t notice when you are working by yourself,” and added that he wants to explore every possibility of calligraphy.

Enhancing his own writing

Nakata picked up a brush. He was going to practice writing his name ”Hidetoshi Nakata”. There are two important points. First is to study the calligraphy texts closely. People usually concentrate more on their hand movements and surprisingly do not study the text enough. You cannot concentrate on practice if you do not clearly envision the objective. That is why it is important to study the text as much as watching your hands.
The other point is to be conscious of your back. One tends to hold the brush too firmly, but just like in sports, it is not good to use too much strength. You should hold the brush lightly, so light that it might slip through your fingers, and be conscious of your posture. The pressure on paper should equal the weight of the brush.
After writing his name a few times, Nakata commented, ”I don’t like my writing.” ”That’s too bad,” Souun-san replied. Writing brings out the person’s character. ”The basics are important of course, but rather than copying the text, it is important to enhance your own writing.”


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