Yukiko Tanaka is a Japanese calligrapher and instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area for 28 years. She teaches in four locations every week and is invited to high schools and colleges several times a year. She also hosts Japanese calligraphy demonstrations at Japanese cultural festivals so that visitors may experience and be introduced to the art.
At eight years old, she saw her good friend writing powerful characters and was determined to learn to do the same. She begged her mother to let her take classes and has since held calligraphy brushes for almost 50 years.
In 1988, when she started teaching calligraphy classes, there were no other instructors or colleagues in the area. Children of Japanese expatriates had a hard time maintaining Japanese culture and language, so she wanted her class to be a community for them while introducing Japanese culture and calligraphy to local residents.
She resumed formal study under Japanese calligraphy master, Mr. Sen-ei Kasuya. At the same time she joined “Shosei-kai,” one of the most renowned Japanese calligraphy associations in Japan and rose to the rank of calligraphy master. In 2008, she transferred to another master, Mr. Kyosen Suzuki who was the head of the association. Each year since then, she exhibits her works at two prestigious Japanese calligraphy exhibitions, the Chomonsho Exhibition in January and the Mainichi Exhibition in July.
She believes that teaching someone also means learning from them. There is an old saying, “Your writing represents you.” Japanese calligraphy is an art of expression of the human heart. One ink stroke on a paper from the tip of your brush is a true expression of your emotion. The characters with black ink are simple yet complete; the background empty yet full. Every movement of the brush requires unwavering concentration. That is why practicing calligraphy requires not only technical training but also spiritual training.
It can be difficult to understand Japanese culture, but Mrs. Tanaka is glad to introduce visitors and students to the rich history of Japan through this unique and striking art form.