SHOYU – The Essential Calligraphy Store for Artists & Beginners Alike
Located in downtown Sanjo-takakura, SHOYU Kyoto is a specialty calligraphy shop that opened in 2001. Every day, the serene machiya townhouse dwelling SHOYU Kyoto sees people from all countries come in search of calligraphy tools and brushes.
Among the multitude of calligraphy stores in Kyoto, SHOYU offers a particularly outstanding balance of the different calligraphy tools; paper, brushes and ink.
This makes SHOYU especially good for newcomers to calligraphy in Kyoto, who want to see everything in one place.
Additionally, because of SHOYU’s immense variety, they are also where many watercolor, oil painting and ink wash painting artists come as well.
Recently reopened in 2014, SHOYU’s new Kyoto store features an interior that is the epitome of clean and tidy. This well-designed layout allows for the plethora of goods to remain easily discoverable. As well, the store utilizes the natural features of its machiya townhouse architecture and even features a classical Japanese nakaniwa courtyard near the back.
SHOYU nearly certainly has whatever calligraphy tool you’re looking for. And with such friendly staff, it’s definitely worth a quick drop by.
Gyokuzan – Hanshi Calligraphy Paper
/ Left: ￥1,485/100 pieces (inc. tax) | Right ￥8,910/1,000 pieces (inc. tax)
Gyokuzan is SHOYU’s special hanshi calligraphy paper. This paper has a characteristically airy, soft quality and is well suited to writing Chinese kanji characters.
As the paper isn’t overly smooth and slightly catches the brush, it’s also relatively easy for beginners of calligraphy to use as well.
The Gyokuzan paper is sold in 100 piece sets.
Rin –India Ink
/ ￥825/500 ml (inc. tax)
Rin is an original SHOYU India ink. This unique ink uses a natural glue made from the collagen of animals. Because the stench when making such natural glues is so unbearable, inks utilizing them have become harder and harder to find in recent years. However, these inks are characteristically slower at drying, easier on the brush and leave more beautiful colors than inks that utilize synthetic glues.
All of these aspects and more are why Rin is the signature ink of SHOYU.
3Check it out!
Unshu – Brushes
/ Small: ￥1,540｜Medium: ￥2,310｜Large: ￥3,850｜Extra Large:￥5,390｜Extra-extra Large: ￥6,160 (all include tax)
Unshu are a series of bestselling calligraphy brushes made with oversight from SHOYU.
The brushes have a distinctively well put together tip that is the result of incredible craftsmanship and the perfect blend of soft and coarse goat’s hair.
With the texture of the bristles being neither too rough nor too soft, the brushes are easy to use even for those not used to handling brushes.
These brushes are recommended for use with hanshi calligraphy paper.
4Check it out!
Tansen – Chinese Xuan Rice Paper
/ ¥2,310/100 pieces (inc. tax)
Tansen is a type of Chinese Xuan rice paper that is backed by a piece of card. The most unique quality of this card-backed paper is the beautiful way in which it soaks up ink. In addition to calligraphy, this paper lends itself to paintings such as ink wash as well. Also, as ink shows up so well on the paper, it’s relatively easy to create gradations too.
Give this paper a try and see if you can’t create a postcard with a personal painting or piece of writing on it to send to someone yourself.