What is your favourite kanji?

Maaya Wakasugi

16th March, 2023

During my high school years, I went every Wednesday evening to Mrs Gyogetsu Akasaka's calligraphy classes. After a year of learning and copying traditional models, my teacher suggested that I paint a kanji that I liked. It is difficult to think of a single ideogram. That's why I chose one of the characters of my first love's name. I couldn't tell my teacher why I chose it, but I remember telling him the etymology. The world of kanji was becoming more and more attractive to me and I would invite my friends over for a calligraphy activity. I enjoyed taking the brush and writing their favourite kanji. During these sessions, I had the impression of getting closer to them by probing their souls; the ice was broken.

For some time now, I have been asked to write 笑, the character of laughter. It is in the top three. "I would like my home to be bathed in laughter", "A drawing that floods with laughter", "A jovial and sunny calligraphy" are recurring commissions, probably related to the moribund current events. I cannot count how many I have painted 笑.

The etymology of 笑 is found in the graphic symbol representing a long-haired priestess. Furthermore, the ancient character of "laugh" is identical to "bloom". Thanks to spring, we will have many opportunities to smile every time we admire the blooms. Our smiles will bloom as much as the flowers. 
This is what I tell myself as I look at the plum blossoms in the hallway.

Original text


高校時代、書道のお稽古は毎週水曜日の夜に赤塚暁月(Mme.Gyogetsu Akatsuka )先生のご自宅に通っていました。



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Maaya Wakasugi

Calligraphy artist

Born in 1977 in Okayama, Japan. Lives in Bordeaux. Maaya Wakasugi was born in 1977, in the province of Okayama. At the age of 6 he began calligraphy, at 17 he held his first exhibition. In 2001, he graduated from the prestigious DAITO BUNKA Faculty of Arts and developed a personal style based on the so-called "ancient characters". Then, his choice of motifs that he liberates from the classical style, as well as the quality of his artistic expression, bring him a notoriety in Japan as well as abroad - exhibitions at NY ART EXPO (New York), at NEXT STEP BIENNALE (Paris), realization of a performance at MoMA. In January 2017 he calligraphed the title "Onna Jōshu Naotora" of the new historical fiction of the national television channel NHK. In 2018 he is the "Guest Artist of the Summer" by the municipality of Andernos-les-Bain. In 2019 he was chosen to calligraph the name of the new Japanese era "REIWA" on the official website of Yahoo! For the past three years he has been training adults from the PHILOMATHIQUE de Bordeaux, as well as primary and secondary school students from the region, in calligraphy workshops, the most recent of which took place at the DON BOSCO Institute in Gradignan.