Japanese calligrapher saves 'female-only' writing from going extinct

Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 4:14pm


When Kaoru Akagawa was growing up, she couldn’t read her grandmother’s letters. “Her handwriting looked like scribbling, and I used to ask her to write properly,” Akagawa said. More than a decade later, she’d come to learn that her grandmother wasn’t writing improperly — she was practicing a rare form of calligraphy called Kana Shodo. Akagawa learned that Kana Shodo is a forgotten form of Kana Scripts calligraphy that was created in medieval Japan and only used by women to communicate with other women. Akagawa is now a master of Japanese calligraphy, and is one of the few remaining people who can read and write using Kana Shodo.