I’m taking a course on Rare Japanese Books via Futurelearn. It’s a lot more intensive than I had originally thought, but also a LOT of good information. I have a book on Japanese bookbinding that shows how some of this is done, but it was incredibly useful to see videos of these various types of books and how they work.
This is a good article on how Japanese surnames evolved. It’s a big long and heavy on jargon (the site is one about learning Japanese), but well worth a read.
The article can be found here on Tofugu.
My shodo teacher Tony Skeen just published a couple of reference books that will help those looking to make inkan (seals). Both are intended to be used in tandem with the New Nelson’s Japanese-English Character Dictionary.
The first volume is to help people sound-out their (non-Japanese) names in Kanji. There are choices–you can go by meaning, but then the pronunciation will be completely different, or you can go by pronunciation and find comparable kanji–THEN you have to watch for the meaning and also double-check to make sure it doesn’t have some slang meaning in Japanese that might be embarrassing. So this first volume is a list of kanji by sound, in English alpha-order. Choosing Kanji for Use on a Seal Stone
The second volume has brushed tensho-script examples of the kanji from the first volume, both as normal and also in reverse (which is how you would carve it to make a seal). As far as I know, there is no other English-language resource on tensho-script that is this detailed. Tensho Kanji for Making a Seal Stone
Both of these are meant to be used in tandem with the New Nelson’s Japanese/English Character Dictionary. Nelson’s is one of the best J/E Kanji Dictionaries available. Here is the Goodreads link to it. They have it listed new on Amazon for $44 dollars, but seriously, shop around. I found mine new on Ebay for $18, and sometimes you can find it for even less! The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary. NOTE: Be sure and get the latest version, so the numbers match up. Also, it’s much larger than the original.
I’ve been studying shodo with Tony Skeen for over a year now. He’s a certified instructor through Nihon Shuji Kyoiku Zaidan and has been practicing shodo for over 20 years. The books are pricey, but he’s not making much of a profit–the cost is mainly due to the books being self-published on small print runs.
He let me look at the proofs when he was working on the book and the books are very to-the-point. He just wants to make it easier for people to make better inkan. The online sites that offer to create tensho often use a computer font. These are HAND BRUSHED examples.
I had seen this page linked on the SCA Japan FB page a while back, but ran across the author in another forum today, so wanted to share the link here as well. Exhaustive list of Japanese statuary, mostly Buddhist with some Shinto. There’s a lot to go through on this site, but very useful AND all in English!