Paired with a mini goshuincho, this is a small-size, small-price way to experience the inner calm of traditional Japanese arts.

As much as we love them, we have to admit that most of the time Japan’s gacha vending machine capsule toys aren’t exactly high culture. Kitschy fun? Definitely. Refined pieces of art? Not so much.

But recently we cam across two exceptions, starting with capsule toy maker J Dream’s Miniature Shuji Set.

Shuji refers to Japanese-style calligraphy, written with a brush dipped in ink. The Miniature Shuji Set series comes in five different versions, each costing just 200 yen (US$1.85) and with a different flower beloved by Japanese artists, such as camellias or cherry blossoms, decorating the box.

Inside you’ll find a brush, inkwell, inkstone, and paperweight, used to keep the paper you’re performing your calligraphy on nice and flat as you run the bristles of the brush over it. Sadly, the “inkstone” here is a purely cosmetic plastic replica, but the brush is the real deal, and can actually be used to write with, as long as you’ve got some ink.

Of course, you’ll also need some paper to write on, and while you could just use any sheet you’ve got lying around, there’s also Cabin Toys’s Palm-Sized Mini Goshuincho for 300 yen.

In case you missed our last article about them, goshuincho are books of blank paper that people take to shrines and temples in Japan, where the priests stamp them in order to convey blessings onto the book’s owner. As alluded to in its name, the gacha toy Palm-Sized Mini Goshuincho is quite a bit smaller than ordinary ones, but it should be just right for using a mini calligraphy brush with.

Testing duties fell to our Japanese-language reporter Saya, who hasn’t written calligraphy in at least 10 years. Before getting started, she though about what she was going to write, eventually settling on the kanji for yume (“dream”).

Pouring a bit of ink into the inkwell, she dipped the brush to moisten its tip, then began to draw it across the paper.

Yume isn’t the most complicated kanji there is in the Japanese language, but at 13 strokes, it’s not the simplest one either. Still, Saya focused and took things one stroke at a time, and the result…

…doesn’t look half-bad to us, though Saya thinks her calligraphy teacher would probably react with “Let’s try to do a little better next time.”

But while the visuals may not have been completely to Saya’s liking, the sensation was incredibly satisfying. Slowly but surely drawing the brush across the paper, and watching as the fibers soaked up the ink, creating a stark, beautiful contrast, filled her heart with a sense of calm, and a desire to write more.

Next, she decided to try reproducing one of the stamp/calligraphy combos a priest had put in her full-size goshuincho.

This turned out to be a little overly ambitious, though, since the compact dimensions of the Palm-Sized Mini Goshuincho didn’t provide quite enough space to write legibly while keeping the various kanji’s proper visual balance.

But even if her writing didn’t match the original, it still had a charm and character all its own.

That said, it seems like you’ll get the best results writing one kanji per page of the Palm-Sized Mini Goshuincho, and with both it and her new calligraphy brush being so easy to store and carry, Saya looks forward to writing more whenever the mood strikes her.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where his one and only school shuji project was writing “nekketsu.”

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