Kids Web Japan

Posture and Implements

How to Hold the Brush

The brush should be held midway between the two ends, using three fingers—your thumb, index finger, and middle finger—to hold it, and your ring and pinkie fingers for support. Using both your index and middle fingers together with your thumb to hold the brush is called soukou-hou and using just your index finger is called tankou-hou. In both methods, your thumb is placed horizontally to the brush.


(Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)


(Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)

A thin brush, called a kofude, is held close to where the bristles join the handle. The style of leaning your wrist on the table to write is called teiwan-hou, whereas lightly resting your wrist on the arm used to hold the paper still to write is called chinwan-hou. A brush is held more upright than a pencil.


(Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)


(Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)
You hold a pencil slightly tilted with your thumb, index finger and middle finger.(Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)


Sit up straight without leaning on the back of your seat, and don't sit up too close to the desk, either. Hold the paper still with the hand you're not using to write with.

(Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)


  • Hanshi (calligraphy paper): Hanshi is commonly made of washi (Japanese hand-molded paper).
  • Shitajiki (writing pad): A shitajiki that's usually made of soft cloth is placed under hanshi.
  • Bunchin (paperweight): A bunchin is a heavy metal bar used to hold down hanshi.
  • Fude (brush): A large brush called an oofude is used to write the larger characters, and a thin brush called a kofude is used to write your name on the piece. A stiff, springy brush is ideal for writing in kaisho (square style) or for bigger characters. A brush with softer bristles is better for gyosho (semi-cursive) and sosho (cursive) styles. There are also brushes with a good balance of softness and stiffness, perfect for beginners.
  • Suzuri (inkstone) and Sumi (black ink): A suzuri is a tool made of stone that's used to prepare your ink. A small amount of water is added to the indented end of the suzuri and a sumi stick is rubbed against it. The sumi is held in your main hand and slowly rubbed on the elevated part of the suzuri, creating a liquid ink that becomes darker the more you rub. There are also ready-to-use liquid inks called bokuju.
From the left: an example character, hanshi paper, a shitajiki (the black cloth underneath the paper), bunchin (the two metal bars placed on top of the paper), a suzuri (inkstone), oofude and kofude brushes, a mizusashi water holder (under the suzuri), and bokuju (the liquid ink above the suzuri) (Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd)