Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kobara Sensei 7th Year Memorial Service

On December 17th, 2011 the Seventh Year Memorial Service for Kobara Ranseki Sensei took place at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco at 1:00 PM. Kobara Sensei was the founder and Shihan ("Headmaster") of the Ranseki Sho Juku system of Japanese calligraphy and painting as well as the Vice President of the Kokusai Shodo Bunka Koryu Kyokai, which is based in Urayasu, Japan.
The private service was attended by around 20 people, mostly members of the Kobara family and H. E. Davey Sensei and Miyauchi Somei Sensei, two of his closest students of shodo. Although Kobara Sensei taught many people the ancient art of brush calligraphy over several decades, only four people ever received Shihan-Dai, the highest level of teaching certification. Davey Sensei and Miyauchi Sensei are the last two living Shihan-Dai of Ranseki Sho Juku shodo. They lead the Wanto Shodo Kai, "East Bay Shodo Association," in Oakland, California. Davey Sensei is also the Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts, where classes in Integrated Shodo & Meditation are offered.
A Jodo Shinshu Buddhist service started the event, followed by a traditional offering of incense to Kobara Sensei by members of his family, Miyauchi Sensei, and Davey Sensei. The memorial service closed with comments from Kobara Kazuko, Kobara Sensei's wife. She recalled his deeply spiritual nature, how he viewed most everyone as members of his family, and how his last words were expressions of gratitude.
Following the service, refreshments were offered at the church social hall, which contained pictures of Kobara Sensei as a child, teaching shodo, receiving awards at international shodo exhibitions, and being presented with the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

From the Author

Living the Japanese Arts & Ways is out of print, but the entire book is now offered in The Japanese Way of the Artist (Stone Bridge Press). What's more, you'll also get two of my other out of print titles: Brush Meditation and The Japanese Way of the Flower.

Shodo (the "Way of Japanese calligraphy"), budo (the "martial Way"), and kado (the "Way of flower arrangement") are just some of the numerous Japanese arts ending in “Do,” indicating “the Way.” Nonetheless, how these arts function as Ways isn’t always understood.

It’s common to state that these various disciplines represent a Way of life (thus the designation “Do”), and that by practicing, we can transcend them and grasp the art of living. While this is true, it’s uncommon to find a teacher (or book) that can explain how such Do forms lead to spiritual realization. While some books pay lip service to the ideal of the Way producing spiritual evolution, they also sometimes fail to offer direct explanations and methodologies to help students realize the Way. It’s frequently assumed that merely manipulating a brush or throwing an opponent will produce profound realizations.

This is untrue and unfortunate. It’s untrue because it’s the manner in which we approach the Ways that determines what we learn from them. Spiritual realization isn’t guaranteed.

It’s unfortunate because the conscious practice of Japanese Do forms truly can result in the cultivation of mind and body. But to use them as meditation, we must investigate exactly how they can lead to realization.

Japanese calligraphy, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, martial arts, and other Do has been the subject of numerous books. Few of these works, however, have explored how they go beyond art and enter into spirituality. Even fewer have offered methods to practice what can be thought of as “moving meditation,” and which are needed for personal growth to take place.

My book was written to answer that need, and I'm grateful for the kind reviews as well as the positive worldwide response.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free Japanese Yoga & Martial Arts Classes!

On Thursday, November 3 the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts will offer an introductory class in the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation, along with an introduction to Saigo Ryu martial arts. This event is FREE. The classes will take place at 1053 San Pablo Ave. in Albany, California, right across the bay from San Francisco.

The martial arts class is not required, and i
t will follow the Japanese yoga program, which starts at 7:00 PM. Since the Saigo Ryu aiki-jujutsu training will refer to principles of mind and body unification covered in the Japanese yoga class, everyone will want to participate in this first part of the evening. You can read more about both subjects at

Wear loose clothing and bring a notebook. Preregistration is needed and easily accomplished. Just leave a voice mail at 510-526-7518. Give us your name and phone number, then indicate that you would like to participate in one or both classes. Let us know if anyone else is coming with you, and we'll see you on Thursday. Please arrive a few minutes early for general registration.

The classes will be taught by Troy Swenson Sensei, who has been studying and teaching at the Sennin Foundation Center for several years. He has teaching certification in Japanese yoga, and he received a black belt from the Shudokan Martial Arts Association Jujutsu Division. He is also the assistant editor of the SMAA Journal.

Don't miss your chance to learn how Japanese yoga and/or martial arts can help you realize better health, deeper calmness, and enhanced concentration in everyday life.

Friday, October 7, 2011


A number of Ways (Do), owing to the fact that a Do is a particular expression of the Way of the universe itself, have used the term mu to point to the sum and substance of the universe. And since it is the mind after all that perceives the absolute universe, various mental states in the Ways have appellations that utilize the character for mu as well. Originating in Buddhism, but having parallels in other religions, mu means, “the void,” or “nothingness.”--H. E. Davey, The Japanese Way of the Artist

Thursday, September 1, 2011

About Japanese Calligraphy: By H. E. Davey

Expanded attention, deeper relaxation, increased focus and resolve . . . shodo 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.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Excerpt

Harmony is a central aspect of shodo. Harmony is frequently expressed through a state of dynamic balance. Balance in shodo is asymmetrical, which produces an active feeling of movement within the characters. One could liken it to a picture of a sprinter whose inclined running posture has been frozen by the camera. Seeing such a picture, you instantly have a sensation of movement, but this sensation is different from what you experience when viewing a photo taken of a runner at the moment he trips and is falling forward. Both photos show bodies inclined in the direction in which they are moving; the difference between the two is balance. Balance in shodo can also be witnessed through a natural alternation of heavy and light brush pressure, which in turn produces an oscillation of thick and thin lines of ink. If all the brush strokes are of equal thickness the work looks stilted, unnatural, and dead. --The Japanese Way of the Artist


Asymmetrical balance is used in kado (flower arrangement) to evoke naturalness. Since nature involves the motion of continuous change, kado should not have a static feeling--exactly what is created by using a rigid, symmetrical balance. Instead, the utilization of unevenness is endlessly variable and calls forth a dynamic feeling of movement. --The Japanese Way of the Artist

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Three Books for the Price of One!

One of the top ten best selling Stone Bridge Press books of 1999, Brush Meditation details the time-honored art of Japanese calligraphy and how it functions as meditation in motion.

Living the Japanese Arts & Ways presents 45 essential principles—like wabi, “immovable mind,” and “stillness in motion”—that are universal in the Japanese classic tradition. It received a Spirituality & Health magazine Best Spiritual Books Award. The same book was one of ForeWord magazine's top five books and a finalist for their Book of the Year Award.

The Japanese Way of the Flower  got great reviews from a number of publications around the world. But like the other two books, it is out of print.

Fortunately, all three titles can be found in their entirety in The Japanese Way of the Artist. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore or from and discover the little-known principles of brush calligraphy, flower arrangement, martial arts, tea ceremony, and other classical Japanese art forms.

The Japanese Way of the Artist: Living the Japanese Arts & Ways, Brush Meditation, The Japanese Way of the Flower
 By H. E. Davey

 494 pages, 6 x 7 ¾",
135 B&W illustrations and photographs, paper
ISBN: 978-1-933330-07-5

Thursday, February 24, 2011

About The Japanese Way of the Artist

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Japanese aesthetics

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful. ~Barbara Bloom

Read The Japanese Way of the Artist and discover the beauty of Japanese aesthetics and arts.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Inexpressible

The mediator of the inexpressible is the work of art.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Pick up a copy of The Japanese Way of the Artist to learn how ancient Japanese arts express the inexpressible.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Art is a Way

Art is not a thing; it is a way.
Elbert Hubbard

The idea of art as a Do, or "Way," is an important part of Japanese culture. The Japanese Way of the Artist was written to explain how arts like judo, chado, kado, or shodo function as Ways that can help us realize the right and natural path for human beings.