Japanese calligraphy (書道 shodō) also called shūji (習字) is a form of calligraphy, or artistic writing, of the Japanese language. The term shodō (書道, “way of writing”) is of Chinese origin as it is widely used to describe the art of Chinese calligraphy during the medieval Tang dynasty.
The Chinese roots of Japanese calligraphy go back to the twenty-eighth century BC, to a time when pictographs were inscribed on bone for religious purposes. Through Zen, Japanese calligraphy absorbed a distinct Japanese aesthetic often symbolised by the ensō or circle of enlightenment.
Early Japanese calligraphy was originated from Chinese calligraphy. Many of its principles and techniques are very similar, and it recognizes the same basic writing styles: seal script (篆書 tensho), clerical script (隷書 reisho), regular script (楷書 kaisho), semi-cursive (行書 gyōsho), cursive (草書 sōsho).
In contemporary Japan, shodo is a popular class for elementary school and junior high school students. Many parents believe that having their children focus and sit still while practicing calligraphy will be beneficial. In high school, calligraphy is one of the choices among art subjects, along with music or painting.