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How To Draw Cursive-Style Japanese Calligraphy

If you're looking for a new challenge with your brush and ink, this guide will introduce you to one of the oldest writing techniques in the world.


  • Step 1: Keep your strokes fluid and constantly moving as you quickly complete the character without refilling your brush or lifting it from the page.
  • TIP: Study the character before you begin so that you can complete it in one pass without stopping.
  • Step 2: Repeat the process several times to refine your strokes. Practice before attempting harder characters.
  • FACT: The Japanese people had no writing system until about 1,500 years ago when Chinese texts were brought to the island chain.
  • Step 3: Stand, don't sit, and hold the brush gently in your dominant hand. Gently place the brush on the paper at a 90-degree angle.
  • TIP: Overload the brush with ink if the character is complex and to create the signature splatter associated with the cursive style.
  • Step 4: Find an open work area free of obstructions and put on your smock in case you spill the ink.
  • Step 5: Fill the suzuri with ink and then lay out a fresh sheet of calligraphy paper or rice paper. Use the paperweight to hold it in place as you work.
  • Step 6: Saturate the brush fibers with ink and wipe off the excess on the sloping part of the ink stone.
  • Step 7: Choose an easy Japanese character that contains between three and six strokes or lines to complete.

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