Organized by Shodo Canada, the competition saw entries from all over the country with over 160 pieces submitted and 5 grand prizes offered to the winners.
Kato Yuki from Kitchener, Noguchi Satoko from Willowdale, and Steipe Boris from Toronto won the Kenzabura Date Memorial Awards. Horibe Kayako from Hamilton, Imamura Kyoko from Waterloo, Kishibe Yuriko from Toronto, Levin Roslyn from Shelburne, Tsushima Naoe from Toronto, and Torizuke Tamotsu from Fenwick won the grand prizes in the competition.
“This is an annual competition that’s on a really high level,” Noriko Maeda, the director of Shodo Canada, said in an interview with Nikkei Voice.
In Shodo, each work has its own form of expression even if the core characters are always written in the same way. For example, “心” meaning “heart” even if the letter used in a number of the pieces, the expression differs for each artist. Perhaps they have a difference background or a different understanding of what “heart” means to them.
The reader also gets in on this experience. Some people see it as a happy heart, others see it as a crying heart depending on how they feel.
“Shodo is only black and white, so that allows us to exercise our imagination,” Maeda said.
When the pieces in the competition were juried, penmanship was not the only thing they looked for. They judge the works in term of shape, balance, originality, etc. An advance artist can win with beautiful technique, but a beginner can also win through his or her faithfulness to their vision.
Mounting the piece is also an important part of this traditional art form. Craftsmen in Japan select the colour of their mount meticulously in order to enhance its look.
For instance if you have “桜” (“cherry blossom”) as your central character they might pick a pink color to remind onlookers of the cherry blossom itself. Also, the Ichimonji, the balt-shaped parts put on the upper and lower side of the work, makes a big difference, according to Maeda.
Due to the individuality of the works and the high quality of the mountings available, this competition has become a cornerstone of Canada’s Japanese community.
“The beauty of shodo is layered and profound,” Tetsuya Yoshimoto, deputy consul general of Japan, wrote in a statement. “It can lie in the meaning of the character or passage of text, as well as in their visual presentation … In this sense, shodo’s appeal has become universal.”
The deadline for next year’s competition is in February. Visit Shodo Canada for more details.