The 10 Best Japanese Calligraphy Papers
A long time ago Japanese calligraphy was more than a niche art. It was the writing of record for official documents, lineages that date back millennia, and artwork created by Zen masters that have lasted since ancient times. Today it is the medium for traditional learners of the ancient art of Japanese calligraphy.
Sure, you could create perfect calligraphy strokes by simply setting the font to calligraphy on a computer–but you get no brownie points for that! True calligraphy artists spend years of practice trying to master making perfect Japanese calligraphy brush strokes by hand.
Works of art that spring from that Zen master level of artistry include fancy family trees on Washi (Japanese paper) scrolls and haikus written by hand on Japanese calligraphy paper board. Step one in choosing the best Japanese calligraphy paper is to know what you are going to create.
To that end, we’ve put together this top 10 list of the best Japanese calligraphy papers a little differently. We’ve divided the list into three categories: best Japanese calligraphy paper for gifts, most authentic Japanese calligraphy paper, and the best practice Japanese calligraphy paper packs and rolls for beginners who need much more practice before mucking up expensive authentic calligraphy board!
Top 4 Japanese Calligraphy Paper Gift Ideas
Japanese calligraphy paper comes in a variety of sizes. You can use it to make hanging art for your walls. You can make a practical object like a pleated fan or you can use it to gussy up stationery when you send out handwritten invitations in Shodō calligraphy. We found three unique types of Japanese calligraphy papers for creating handcrafted gifts.
1. Make Personalized Japanese-Style Pleated Fans
Want a homemade gift idea that won’t result in a bunch of moans and groans? We like the Blank Xuan Paper Fan Set from Hmay Art Accessory. It comes with blank pleated fans that you can then decorate with Japanese calligraphy. This is the perfect gift idea for you and someone special.
This set comes with two bamboo fans and two different types of pleated fan paper for you to decorate your way. The bamboo fans are decorative size – two feet when unfolded! Paint them with beautiful Japanese calligraphy and then give them away as decorative wall art.
The blank pieces come unglued to make it easier for you to paint them. Once your masterpiece is finished, you glue the fans together for a handmade trio of gifts for some very special people in your life.
2. Give a Japanese Calligraphy Paper Holder with Case
This Inkstone Paperweight Set from M-RO is the perfect gift for the practicing Japanese calligrapher in your life. This set comes with a one hundred sheet pack of 9.5” X 13” Hanshi calligraphy paper. What we love about this set is the stabilizing non-slip underlay that you clip your calligraphy paper onto to keep it in place.
With this set, you get a carrying case to hold the two-piece Fude calligraphy brush set, a Sumi ink stick and a double-sided inkstone. As you work to master your calligraphy brush strokes, the handy clip is a lifesaver, especially when you are working outdoors.
When you are finished practicing, you can pack your brushes and inkstone up and then slide the whole kit and caboodle in the clear carrying case.
3. A Decorative Japanese Calligraphy Painting Sketchbook
Look at this beauty right here. This gift will send the art lover in your life soaring when they open the Small Ancient Sketch-Book/Notebook from Hmay Rice Paper. Inside of the Oriental fabric notebook are six pages of genuine Xuan calligraphy paper for Sumi paintings and brush calligraphy.
The notebook itself is 8cm X 18 cm and each sheet is made of raw rice paper on one side and plant fiber on the other. You can use ink on these pages or watercolors using an authentic Japanese calligraphy brush. You can fill the notebook with your calligraphy or give it blank and let the receiver of the gift come up with their own creations.
We love this as a gift whether you are into calligraphy or not. We know it’s not a competition, but you may even win Secret Santa this year with this gift!
4. Or Rainbow-Colored Ryoshi Handmade Japanese Calligraphy Paper
There’s a Japanese name for this type of calligraphy paper. Made specifically for Shodō calligraphy, you’ll love this Japanese Handmade Decorative Paper in Rainbow Colors from Daj. Traditional Washi paper made with patterns or in different colors is called Ryoshi and is used to make fancy Shodō writings.
Unlike traditional Washi, this handmade Japanese calligraphy paper is made to be delicate – almost transparent. In order to prime the pump on the panache, each of the sixteen different 5.7” X 5.7” paper sheets are textured in a unique way.
Some are threaded with gold textured ribbing. In total, you’ll find every color of the rainbow in solid colors ready to serve as a personalized greeting card, art piece, or stationery.
Top 3 Most Authentic Japanese Calligraphy Paper Options
Japanese Calligraphy actually originated in China. Once it caught wind in Japan, it began to take on its own unique style. Specifically, the way that Washi is made is different from the way Chinese Xuan or rice paper is made. It takes a long time to make it by hand out of tree bark and other plants.
Some of the most authentic Japanese calligraphy paper is made from raw materials which is important when making genuine Japanese calligraphy. Modern Washi is often manufactured using wood pulp as opposed to raw plant fibers. We found three Japanese calligraphy papers that are most authentic.
5. Genuine Zhejiang Province Yuan Shu Japanese Calligraphy Paper
Handmade Japanese calligraphy paper like the Handmade Sumi Paper from Easyou is made to be course so as to prevent the ink from bleeding through the paper and making a mess. This authentic Washi comes in 70 big 16” X 16” sheets so that you can get plenty of practice in on real Japanese calligraphy paper.
Made of bamboo fibers in the Zhejiang Province, you’ll notice how sturdy this paper stock is. It absorbs ink brilliantly by keeping the ink together for clear bold lines while preventing the kind of bleeding that will ruin calligraphy.
The beauty of this material is that you can crease it to create easy to follow gridlines to practice your lettering. This is an excellent intermediate level paper when you feel you’ve mastered the strokes enough to try your hand at mastering genuine Washi!
6. Large 2’ x 3’ Natural Japanese Calligraphy Paper
Generally speaking, you don’t want to start out with authentic Japanese calligraphy paper. For the best quality paper you’ll pay more for far fewer sheets than you will for practice style paper. But when you are ready to take that leap and create an actual work of calligraphic art, you may be ready for the Kizuki Kozo Natural Japanese Paper from Fine Art Store.
Notice the frayed edges? Can’t you just imagine a Zen master from ancient times working with a piece of cloth like this? This sucker is big too – 24” X 39”! If you are working on a canvas size work of art, this is the type of material you will want to put it on.
Expect great absorption since this material is quite tough for excellent brush strokes and solid lines. Do you think you can calligraphy? If you can do it on this paper, you can!
7. Authentic Oriental Rice Paper for Sumi Japanese Calligraphy
Back in the day, Japanese calligraphy paper was measured in “shaku” where one shaku was equivalent to 30 centimeters. Traditional Japanese calligraphy is done on a paper roll that is 69 cm by 136 cm. The P-904 Rice Paper Roll from Loew-Cornell is made of genuine rice paper that works well for sketching, watercolor, and calligraphy alike.
Made specifically for Sumi calligraphy, you don’t have to be an artist to master working on this material. It’s suitable for all skill levels from beginners to seasoned pros. It’s not as tough as traditional Sumi rice paper, but it is textured enough to provide a challenge.
Because this calligraphy paper comes in a roll, you can make it as long of a scroll as you want. Wherever you are on the learning curve, you can get real world experience working with traditional Japanese calligraphy paper with this product.
3 Best Practice Japanese Calligraphy Paper Rolls
Before going to the paperboard and authentic Japanese calligraphy papers, beginners and intermediate level calligraphers tend to start with machine-made Washi. With today’s technology, the difference between some imitation Washi and genuine, handmade Washi is negligible. Plus, with machine-made Japanese paper rolls and sheets, there is no limit to the size of art you can make. We found 3 of the best!
8. Large Rice Paper Roll for Traditional Sumi Japanese Calligraphy
If you’re just startin’ Martin, start here! We like the Japanese Chinese Sumi Calligraphy Rice Paper from Teagas for beginners. This is a very ample roll of calligraphy paper that is big enough so that you can screw up a few sheets without feeling like you’re wasting a bunch of money.
Each sheet on this roll is 13.5” X 21.” As far as practice Japanese calligraphy papers go, this is a high quality version so that it’s challenging enough for beginners to help you get better yet easy enough to use so that you don’t quit before you get the hang of it.
Made from raw tree wood, you get the thick Xuan that you want to create solid Kanji Sumi calligraphy. It holds ink together while diffusing it in bold brush strokes without allowing water to penetrate the surface.
9. 100 Sheets of Bleed-Resistant Washi for Shodō Japanese Calligraphy
For those of you practicing the art of Shodō calligraphy on Washi, we recommend East Wind Shodō Japanese Writing Paper from Tofu Shodō Paper. You get 100 sheets of paper to practice on and each sheet is a sizable 24.2 cm by 33.3 cm.
Face it you’re going to strike out plenty before you hit a home run. With this you’ve got 100 swings to hit it out of the park. In order to make practicing Japanese calligraphy on practice paper useful, you have to go for quality Washi.
Even though this is machine-made calligraphy paper, it is a high grade of paper that includes recycled materials for the environmentally conscious. Best of all, this paper is made sturdy enough to mimic the feel of authentic tear-resistant Washi. It also minimizes bleeding while absorbing ink well for hours and hours of perfection making practice.
10. Double-Sided 100 Count Pack of Foot-Long Japanese Calligraphy Paper
For our final entry on this list, we found a 100 Sheet Pack of Rice Paper from Art Advantage. One of the best things about this practice Oriental calligraphy paper is that it is two-sided. Once you’ve used up all of the paper on one side, just flip the pad over and start on the back. That gives you double the practice!
Each sheet is about the same as your standard letter size sheet of paper; 9” X 12.” You can pay a little bit more and buy the same rice paper brand with sheets that are 12” X 50” big. Whether you are practicing watercolors or calligraphy, this paper works well with both.
If this is your first foray into the world of Japanese calligraphy, we think this paper pack is the way to go to get your feet wet.