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Different styles and tools
Japanese calligraphy shares its root with Chinese calligraphy since the Kanji letters arrived from China to Japan.
Many of principales and techniques are very similar between Chinese calligraphy and that of Japan.
Below I introduce you some pricipal scripts and tools that you need when you practice the Japanese calligraphy.
Kaisho - 楷書 (Regular script)
Kaisho is the most basic, common, and essential script among several different styles in Japanese calligraphy. It's clean and simple for everyone to read.
Gyô-sho - 行書 (Semi-cursive script)
Gyô-sho is called Semi-cursive script. It is literally more cursive than "Kaisho", which is described above. However, it is not so abbreviated yet thus you can read with no problem if you can recognize "Kaisho" writing.
Sô-sho - 草書 (Cursive script)
Sô-sho is a much more cursive script than "Gyô-sho" as you can see. You can hardly recognize certain letter as it is more stylized than the other two. The letters are waving and you are required to move your blush in the larger width when you write.
Rei-sho - 隷書 (Clerical script)
Rei-sho is an archaic style of script. Due to its high legibility to modern readers, it is still used for artistic flavor in a variety of functional applications such as headlines, signboards, and advertisements.
To me, it's very primitive next to Ten-sho (篆書) and I enjoy very much when I write in Rei-sho. You really have to pay attention to the very end of the line in order to make it caracteristic.
Kana - かな
With the arrival of Kanji letters from China, in fact the Kanji was considered a very masculin manner of script so it was used exclusively for men to write political documents at that time. It was even considered not to be correct for women to write with Kanji. That is how, the ladies started to develop from Kanji their own way of writing, which was to be "Kana".
Although, the calligraphy script of "Kana" uses the both of Kanji and Hiragana and mixes them depending on the text. Sometimes you see that they used a Kanji (乃) to write a letter of "no (の)" in hiragana. (See the example picture at left) because the people tried to replace Kanji to Hiragana as much as possible. Then HIragana were born out of Kanji, from the process of simplification from Kanji !
It's caracteristic that in Kana piece the sentences are often wrote in a waving and connected way to the later word. To write a Kana piece, you have to use a special brush and a very thin paper.
This script is generally prefered to write a Japanese ancient poem "Waka" or "Haiku".
Sumi - 墨 (Inkstick)
You need this Inkstick to practise the calligraphy! You do not write with a pencil ;)
Inkstick or Ink Cakes are a type of solid ink used traditionally for calligraphy. They are made mainly of soot and animal glue, sometimes with incense or medicinal scents added. To make ink from the inkstick, it has to be continuously ground against aninkstone (硯) with a small quantity of water to produce a dark liquid which is then applied with an ink brush.
You can vary the thickness of the resulting ink according to their preferences by reducing or increasing the intensity and time of ink grinding.
Fude - 筆 (Brush)
You need a brush to calligraphy, above all !
Personally, I prefer and use brushes made from goat fur, which is soft and you can try a lot of different ways of expressions.
You also have to change the type of brushes following the size of papers.