On Thursday, June 29, 2023, I traveled from Kita City, Tokyo prefecture to Suzuka City, Mie prefecture. While in Mie, I visited Shinseido Co., Ltd. to participate in a traditional Suzuka Ink Experience. Shinseido Co., Ltd. is the sole producer of Suzuka Ink still in operation. The two men that carry on the legacy of the art form and ink production are Kido Ito and Harunobu Ito, a father-son pair. During my time at the company’s studio, I met Harunobu Ito-san, who is the director of the company, Tsuji-san, a representative of the company, and Bandai-san, one of the studio’s calligraphers.
While at the studio, I practiced calligraphy using the Suzuka Ink. I used a brush dipped in ink to practice writing Japanese hiragana and kanji on traditional calligraphy paper. I also wrote my name and signature in English. I used multiple colors of Suzuka Ink such as black and purple during my experience. The kanji was somewhat challenging to write, but Bandai-san simplified it for me by labeling the order in which to write the lines. The hiragana was not as challenging, but Bandai-san also labeled the order of lines for each character for me. At the end of the experience, Ito-san presented me with a Suzuka Ink kit to take home with me as a way of remembering my experience at the studio and in order to practice calligraphy more. After my experience at the studio, Ito-san, Tsuji-san, and I drove over to the Suzuka Traditional Crafts Museum. The museum showcased the process of Suzuka Ink and its history.
My experience at the Shinseido Co., Ltd.’s ink studio was great and allowed me to experience the traditional Japanese form of calligraphy. The history behind Suzuka Ink and with the studio being the only producer of the ink left, it was extremely interesting to practice such a treasured and historical art form.