The Japanese art of calligraphy is called shodo. Every child going to a Japanese school has to learn how to write with brush and ink on paper. Some people take special calligraphy classes and professional calligraphers are keeping this old art alive. Although the writing itself adds a deeper understanding to a piece, you do not have to be able to read the Japanese and Chinese characters to appreciate the beauty of calligraphy.
The Taito City Calligraphy Museum and the Tokyo National Museum are great places to see calligraphy art in Tokyo. They are located close to each other and you could visit them in one day.
Taito City Calligraphy Museum
The calligrapher and western-style painter Fusetsu Nakamura (1866-1943) collected Chinese and Japanese calligraphy for over 40 years and opened the Calligraphy Museum in 1936. The collection includes inscribed tortoise shells, bronze ware, stone inscriptions, and scrolls. Overall there are about 16,000 pieces of art, antiquities, and archeological finds relevant to the research of calligraphy in Japan and China.
Located near Uguisudani Station at 2-10-4 Negishi Taito-ku Tokyo
Open 9:30-16:30 (last admission at 16:00), closed on Mondays
Admission: 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for primary / junior / senior high school students
Unrivaled Calligraphy: Yan Zhenqing and His Legacy
Exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum
January 16 - February 24, 2019
Yan Zhenqing (709–785) was one of the leading calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty of China (618–907). He established his own style of calligraphy and had a great influence on other calligraphers. This special exhibition explores the changing form of Chinese characters, the calligraphy of the Tang Dynasty, Yan Zhenqing’s work and his influence on later generations of calligraphers. Several works are on exhibit for the first time in Japan.
Located in Ueno Park 10 minutes’ walk from Ueno or Uguisudani Station
Open 9:30 - 17:00, Fridays & Saturdays until 21:00 (last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed on Mondays (except for Monday, February 11) and Tuesday, February 12
Admission: 1600 yen for adults, 1200 yen for university students, 900 yen for high school students
Tokyo National Museum information and exhibition details in English on https://www.tnm.jp/
Exhibition website (in Japanese) https://ganshinkei.jp