Japanese Calligraphy (shodo: “the way of writing”) is the art of writing beautifully. Most children learn calligraphy in elementary school. It is a popular hobby among adults, too.
Unlike the strokes of Roman letters, the strokes of Japanese characters have to be drawn in the correct order, not arbitrarily. When you learn Chinese characters, you draw one stroke after the other. This is called the square (Kaisho) style of writing kanji.
This style of writing kanji, however, is rarely used in everyday life. Instead, there are two faster styles of writing, in which the kanjibecome a little bit less legible, just like when writing Roman letters in a fast way. These two styles are called semi cursive (gyosho) and cursive (sosho).
Cristóbal Vila, June 2008, Zaragoza, Spain