Fine Arts

The Sennin Foundation Center has a distinctive fine arts division, which includes instruction in Japanese calligraphy. The program      emphasizes unification of mind and body via the practice of traditional Japanese arts.

Japanese Calligraphy
The Sennin Foundation Center's brush writing class focuses on Japanese calligraphy, but branches out to include Japanese ink painting and the study of haiku and waka poetry. Expanded attention, deeper relaxation, increased focus and resolve . . . Sennin Foundation students have a chance to achieve lasting spiritual transformation through the classical art of Japanese calligraphy (shodo). Simple step-by-step exercises let beginners and non-artists alike work with brush and ink to reveal their mental and physical state through moving brush meditation.

Kanji, or "characters," used in both Japan and China, have transcended their utilitarian function and collectively can serve as a visually stirring piece of fine art. Shodo allows the dynamic movement of the artist's spirit to become observable in the form of rich black ink. In shodo, you can sense both the rhythm of music as well as the smooth, elegant, and balanced construction of architecture. Many practitioners feel that the "visible rhythm" of Japanese calligraphy embodies a "picture of the mind"--and calligraphers recognize that it discloses our spiritual state. This recognition is summed up by the traditional Japanese saying: Kokoro tadashikereba sunawachi fude tadashi--"If your mind is correct, the brush will be correct."


Some Japanese calligraphers and psychologists have written books on the examination of our personality through calligraphy. Just as Western companies have employed handwriting analysts to help them select the best individuals for executive posts, the Japanese have traditionally expected their leaders in any field to display fine, composed script. This stems from the belief that brush strokes reveal the state of the body and subconscious mind--its strengths and weaknesses--at the moment the brush is put to paper. It has also been held that the subconscious can be influenced in a positive manner by studying and copying consummate examples of calligraphy by extraordinary individuals. Japanese tradition teaches that by using this method, we can cultivate strength of character akin to that of the artist being copied. Since shodo is an art form, it's not strictly necessary to be able to read Chinese characters, or the Japanese phonetic scripts of hiragana and katakana, to admire the dynamic beauty of shodo. Within Japanese calligraphy, we find essential elements that constitute all art: creativity, balance, rhythm, grace, and the beauty of line. These aspects of shodo can be recognized and appreciated by every culture.

In 1993, H. E. Davey Sensei, Director of the Sennin Foundation Center, received the Shihan-Dai title from the Ranseki Sho Juku, which is the highest rank issued by this group. He is the only non-Japanese Shihan-Dai in the over 30-year history of this organization, which is affiliated with the Kokusai Shodo Bunka Koryu Kyokai, a worldwide Japanese calligraphy association. In 1988, Davey Sensei sent his work to the annual International Japanese Calligraphy Exhibition in Urayasu, Japan. His calligraphy was selected, out of several thousand works of art, for exhibition at this event (which is sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education and the Kokusai Shodo Bunka Koryu Kyokai.) He was also presented with the Tokusen award at that year's exhibition--the first non-Japanese to receive this honor. In each of the following years, his calligraphy and painting has been shown at this exhibit, and received various awards, including Jun Taisho, or the "Associate Grand Prize," which was also a first for someone not of Japanese ancestry. Davey Sensei is also the author of Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony (Stone Bridge Press), which details how Japanese calligraphy can function as moving meditation. It can be ordered by visiting

H. E. Davey combines a remarkable technical facility in the Japanese art of the brush with a deep understanding of its spiritual profundities. His book offers a marvelous practical introduction to Japanese calligraphy as well as insights into the essence of this art. It is a unique and fascinating presentation of a little-known art of self-cultivation.--Dave Lowry, author of Sword and Brush