Meet Bokuden Matsuda, who not only writes calligraphy, but teaches classes in his condominium-office-atelier in the over one million population metropolis of Fukuoka City as well. He is also known for his unusual abstract pieces of art and sculptures. Last weekend, I went to spend some time with this well-known Japanese calligrapher/artist in his private studio here in Munakata City. We’ve been friends for several years.
Bokuden-san smiled as he shared a simple thought about his work as a calligrapher/artist: “If one does something they really like then they’ll naturally calm down. If one is doing the work they love, then they’ll never tire from it. Because my work is something that I love to do, I’m a very happy man.” His own personal “stress reliever” is his “fude” (writing brush). If you’re the kind of person who hates your job, then you’re probably under a lot of undo stress. This way of thinking makes a person realize how a hobby can be stress relieving. If everyone thought this way, can you imagine how pleasant waiting tables, shopping, driving a bulldozer, preaching, singing, cashiering, teaching, telling, coaching, directing, composing, fixing, performing, pumping gas, piloting, serving, leading, writing, producing, acting and even driving a garbage truck would be?
Bokuden-san related another thought. He said, “Inspiration is always before a person’s eyes. While looking at and observing things around me, I think ‘Ah, this’ll make a neat piece of artwork.’ If my heart is having fun, my brush naturally begins to move. When I begin writing little by little it becomes really fun.” Mr. Matsuda finds himself practicing his writing a lot. He related, “If I’m having fun practicing, something happens.” The old adage: Practice makes perfect!
Wherever he goes, whether inside Japan or out, he wears his trademark colors: red & black. The energy of red and the power of black are seen in the car he drives, and all the clothing he wears. When he wears socks, he always wears a black one and a red one; and he has many pairs of the same kind in his chest of drawers at home! The colors red and black are also seen in calligraphic writings, whether done by Bokuden or any other Japanese calligraphic artist. Pure black charcoal ink and deep (almost the color of blood) red ink is used when placing the artist’s personal signet on any work of art. Interesting, don’t you think? The colors of sin and redemption.
As he talked and shared, Bokuden-san spent probably 30 minutes writing and writing pieces of Japanese calligraphic paper. He put his brush down at the end and got a container of cinabar seal ink (left). In Japanese it is called “shuniku,” or “red flesh,” implying the color of blood, which is a sign of life. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” After writing the expression numerous times, Bokuden applied his “inkan” (personal seal) to the calligraphic expression: “Ah, Shu no Megumi” (“Ah, the Grace of the Lord”). Without this seal the artistic writing has little or no value. It is his personal seal in red that brings value to the calligraphic expression. The signet is a guarantee showing there is no mistake that the real person (Bokuden Matsuda) wrote it. Every signet is different, just like a fingerprint, an original that can belong to only one person.
“You must recognize that you were redeemed (purchased) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your forefathers, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but you were purchased with the PRECIOUS BLOOD of Christ, the Messiah, like that of a sacrificial lamb without blemish of spot.” 1 Peter 1:18 (Amplified)
Your life is a piece of calligraphic writing written by God Himself. You have been created in His likeness and His image is stamped upon you. Remember when Jesus was asked by someone if people should pay taxes to Caesar? He picked up a coin and said, “Whose IMAGE is on the coin?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” He made an astounding statement: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (in other words, pay your taxes). Render unto God the things that are God’s.” YOU HAVE THE IMAGE OF GOD STAMPED UPON YOU!
Why not render (give) your whole being to God this weekend. After all, He has His personal seal stamped upon you. That image is proof that you are an original work of art by God Himself; that you are “precious and valuable” in His sight; that you are loved by God!