Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 39

39. Calligraphy on a Glass Plate

The Honseki would not even let the smallest thing go to waste. When the Honseki began practicing calligraphy in 1891 when he was 60 years old, at first he thought it was wasteful to actually write on paper. So he practiced on a glass plate and wiped the ink off each time.

He also made do by using old wrapping paper. Other times he smoothed out scraps of paper with Rin Masui and made them into a practice pad. He made use of the smallest scraps of paper imaginable and would write in a size accordingly to the size of the scraps. All these are fine examples showing what lengths he went to use everything to their utmost potential.

The Honseki was quite fond of calligraphy for a long time and practiced in the style of the master Wang Xizhi (王義之 303–361). When a professional calligrapher saw the Honseki’s work, he was amazed and insisted that the Honseki’s skill was not that of an ordinary calligrapher. The Honseki certainly improved his skills by writing on a glass plate over and over, proving that one is never too old to learn something new.

(Adapted from Shinpan Izo Iburi den pp. 129–130 and Ten no jogi pp. 148–149)

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.