Friday, January 28, 2011

Zen Buddhism Japanese Calligraphy Scroll

If you would like to order a scroll, go to or e-mail to me at 
The calligraphy for this scroll was not written by Yoshimi Maples, or Ryugyoku. It was written by Taiten Kaneta Roshi, a zen master that is the 25th Abbot of the Soto Zen Temple Tsudai-jikurihara in Miyagi Prefecture. Meaning of the scroll as follows thanks to Regina Oberndorfer and Reverend Fujita.

只管打坐  shikantaza (Jusit sitting)

證上修 shoojoo(no)shuu (practice on the basis of the realization)

初発心時 shoposshinji (At the moment of arousing the mind for the awakening for the first time)

辨成正覚 benjoo shoogaku (understand and accomplish the true awakening)

三昧王三昧 zammai oozanmai (Samadhi king of samadhis)

盡十方界 jin jippookai (The entire world of the ten directions)

自己全身 jiko(no)zenshin (Whole body of the self)

本証通身 honshoo tuushin (Original realization penetration throughout the body)

妙修出身 myoosyuu syusshin (Wondrous practice coming out of the body)

The scroll is done as a yokojiku scroll. The Brass/Bronze color cloth is complemented with a Gold on Brown Ichimonji. Both the Kinran and the Kireji seem to make the gold and silver in the paper to be easily seen. This is the widest hashira that I have ever put on a scroll, and in some cases, it may have been a better choice to attach narrow pillars on the sides to create a Rinpou Hyougu scroll.

The customer also requested that Suji be put on this wallscroll. So this is not a typical Fukuro Hyougu style scroll in that it incorporates an Ichimonji with the work. The scroll has some beautiful finishing touches of an ebony/rosewood Jikusaki with a Gold band circling the end and a dark blue/black Hanging string.

Name in Kanji Name in English Size in Bun Size in Centimeters Size in Inches

天 Ten 95 287.85 11.33

上一文字 Ue Ichimonji 11 33.33 1.31

紙本の幅さ Artwork Width 218 660.54 26.01

紙本の長さ Artwork Length 83 251.49 9.90

柱 Pillars 50 151.5 5.96

下一文字 Shita Ichimonji 7 21.21 0.84

地 Chi 72 218.16 8.59

掛け軸の幅さ Scroll Width 318 963.54 37.93

掛け軸の長さ Scroll Length 268 812.04 31.97

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kyokushin Karate Scroll

This large scroll has a mix of Calligraphy and Sumi-e. The writing is for a Karate Style called 極真会 Kyokushin Kai. This was developed by a Korean-Japanese Master named Masutatsu Oyama. 大山倍達 You can read more about it on wikipedia at                                              If you would like to work with us to design a personalized handmade kakejiku contact to Jonathan Maples at I will send to you a design workbook to help you design all aspects of your scroll.

What I love most about this scroll is the mellow color of the Antique Cloth. The customer also requested Sumi-e to be drawn. There are two phoenixes facing each other at the top of the artwork and in the lower right hand corner is a Kanku. In the lower left hand corner is the logo of the dojo, which is a karateka in a seza (kneeling) position for meditation.

In picking the Ichimonji for this scroll, I was conflicted. A more neutral brown or gold may have worked, but I wanted to try something different. I used the red orange clouds for the Karateka to reach for the sky and to achieve lofty goals, and so I used the orange/red cloth. The scroll is completed by utilizing a beautiful dark brown dully lacquered wood jikusaki and a gold with white pattern Kakehimo. The writing tries to mimic the writing of the Kyokushin Kai in the Honbu in Japan.

The total scroll length is a little over 5.5 feet and the width is 14 inches. Dimensions of the scroll in traditional bun measurement as follows:

天 Ten 124

上一文字 Ue Ichimonji 9

紙本の幅さ Artwork Width 86

紙本の長さ Artwork Length 343
柱 Pillars 16
下一文字 Shita Ichimonji 5
地 Chi 87
掛け軸の幅さ Scroll Width 118
掛け軸の長さ Scroll Length 568

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bushido Scroll with Cherry Blossoms

This scroll was sold to the Western United States. This is a repeat customer.

If you would like to order a custom scroll there are three ways to get started: 1. Go to my shopping site at 2. Download my scroll design workbook from my website at to read about the concepts behind kakejiku or wallscroll design. 3. E-mail to me directly at 

The scroll concept was designed earlier in the year but due to some extenuating circumstances it was not able to be completed until now. In designing the scroll, I wanted to have a more Japanese style scroll. So we utilized a Navy cloth with a Navy hanging string 掛け紐. The gold on red Ichimonji 一文字provides a strong transition between the artwork and the Navy cloth 裂地. The other point you notice on this scroll is a black lacquer wood jikusaki 軸先 that has a red ring around it to provide a continuation of the theme expressed in the Ichimonji.

The monochrome cherry blossoms were drawn by Ren Adams. You can see here artwork at The Calligraphy and the English writing of Bushido was written by Ryugyoku 龍玉. Both are talented artists and really work to provide beautiful centerpieces for customers.

Dimensions of the scroll are given in the traditional Bun 分measurement as follows. One Bun is approximately equal to 3.03 millimeters.

天 Ten 95

上一文字 Ue Ichimonji 10

紙本の幅さ Artwork Width 77

紙本の長さ Artwork Length 108

柱 Pillars 30

下一文字 Shita Ichimonji 6

地 Chi 61

掛け軸の幅さ Scroll Width 137

掛け軸の長さ Scroll Length 280

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tenbatsu-Divine Punishment Scroll

This scroll was ordered directly from my online shop at It is headed somewhere in the deep Southeast of the US.

If you would like to order a custom scroll there are three ways to get started: 1. Go to my shopping site at 2. Download my scroll design workbook from my website at to read about the concepts behind kakejiku or wallscroll design. 3. E-mail to me directly at

The most interesting fact on this scroll is that my wife sure saved me a lot of headache. When the customer asked for Divine Punishment, I had no idea that there was a Japanese phrase for this. I did nail the second character batsu, but if it had been left to me to do the translation it would have been Shinbatsu...Like God, or the same character of Kami in Kamikaze...

Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife to help me get the Japanese correct. This scroll is written in the Kaisho, block print style. It is a beautifully written work and I am proud at how this scroll turned out. The darker antique cloth is complemented with a large gold on white ichimonji. The customer chose the black hanging string which is quite beautiful as well.

Scroll dimension given in the bun measurement.
Ten = 82
Ueichimonji = 13
Shihon no Habasa = 76
Shihon no Nagasa = 105
Hashira = 23
Shitaichimonji = 9
Chi = 58
Total Scroll Width = 122 (14.55 Inches)
Total Scroll Length = 267 (31.85 Inches)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kakizome no Hi Writing

This work is not done on a Shikishi because it will be used for a customer at a bonsai convention seminar I will be doing. The inkan has not been established yet, but will be in the futute. This was written by Ryugyoku Yamada, and she was mimicking the Gyousho style out of the 禅語古語字典. This phrase fell under the Serenity phrases, which is the idea that the bonsai artist was trying to use as the theme.

The deeper meaning from the book has been translated from Japanese in shortform below.

I am not applying the actual reading at this time out of respect for the customer.

True Calm/Quietness Is…

The saying “There is Nothing” is really quite a difficult concept to comprehend. Even while you are thinking that there is nothing here, in actuality you are there. In fact, it is claimed in the academic world there is no evidence for the existence of “nothing”. I wonder if you feel this discussion is getting more difficult.

The real scriptural phrase for this saying is, “Tori no Naku Koe ga Kikoe, Yama no Shizukesa ga Issou Fukumatta.” This phrase means, “Hearing the voice of the crying bird, the solitude of the mountain became all the more deep.” As one pushes oneself deeper into the mountains, upon hearing the song of a bird, the thoughts of there are no other sounds here but this bird races through the mind. The feeling of “This is quiet”, is contrary to what “quietness” actually is.

“Furuike ya Kawazu Tobikomu Mizu no Oto (古池や蛙飛び込む水の音) & Shizukesa ya Iwa ni Shimihairu Semi no Koe (静けさや岩に染み入る蝉の声)”The sound of the water after the dive of the frog” & “The stillness of the sound of the cicada sinking (absorbed) into the rock” (Jonathan’s Translations into more everyday English usage; Others are listed below) are two famous Matsuo Basho verses. The theme of the passages is the sound of the water and the sound of the cicada, but in actuality the verses are really about serenity and quietude.

In the beginning of our life, we use comparison to be conscious of our surroundings. If that is the expected way of going through life, at most one will barely be able to perceive the deepening emotions. Within deeper understanding, would arrive the dearness to ones heart of realizing that there is always “something” around us, even the “quiet”.

Sources for Matsuo Basho Poem translations.

Into the ancient pond A frog jumps Water’s sound!

How still it is! Stinging into the stones, The locusts' trill.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Scroll Making Lecture/Demonstration

 On Friday Evening, December 31, 2010, I conducted a lecture and demonstration for a local Anime fan club. It was a good time and everyone said they learned something new and exciting. I am very happy to share my knowledge and experiences with those who have interest to learn.

The lecture consisted of very basic information about the history of scrolls in Japan, divergence and design, the various aspects of glue, paper and cloths used. The crowd also got to see different Jikusaki, Fuchin and Kakehimo.

In the first two pictures I am explaining the meaning of the Kanji on some different orders. Immediately below is working and explaining the various viscous glues, and the types of paper used to make the scrolls.


Next is the measuring and cutting of the Uruachi to be applied to the artwork.

Application of the glue can be very stressful, so as to get the right amount without causing wrinkles in the paper and other problems.

The Kinran and finished work and Ichimonji on the drying board completed the demonstration. In all I felt this was the most appropriate way to end the old year and start the new. In this year I am desirous to teach more classes on Kakejiku making. Some of you may be interested in purchasing my book How to Make Handmade Wallscrolls. For more details go to my webstore at or contact to