From TP’s Stack: “The History of Japanese Lettering”

Today, I would like to introduce “The History of Japanese Lettering,” written by Minezo Tani.

The history of Japanese lettering is described throughout 3 chapters of the book: various typeface configurations (typographies) of temple and shrine tablets, genealogy of Japanese styles of calligraphy, and typography in each occupational field in the Edo period.

A lot of writing tablets described in the beginning of the book made me interested in reading this book in full. What I personally felt unexpected and fresh is the fact that a skilled calligrapher in the Heian period known for square style and semi cursive style work changed his style of calligraphy in tablets, and made design full of variety, including decorative characters with bold strokes.

“The names of each typeface have become ambiguous today, as they are all called ‘Edo characters’ altogether” is written in the postscript. Typography in the Edo period is introduced in detail with each name along with the composition of a typeface in this book – it is impressive.

The words that came up to my mind after reading this book apart from “lettering” are: logo type, font design, corporate font, etc. I enjoyed reading the book and connecting or replacing the character designs I see in real time.

A comment on “The History of Japanese Lettering” and introduction of the related book by Isao Suzuki, representative of Type Project, are as follows:

This book includes a collection of Japanese written characters (mainly display typeface) further back in history. Having a wide range of what the word lettering points out, its content matches the tastes of readers in recent years. Adding the history of books in the history of lettering has pros and cons, but the perspective of lettering is essential to describing the Japanese characters, and Edo characters in particular.

If you want to widen your range of knowledge on “The History of Japanese Lettering,” focusing on calligraphy, and learn more about lettering including carved characters, I recommend “Characters of Prayers” and “Characters of Cities,” written by Yoji Haijima. It is delightful to view these two books collected in one volume in 2020.
Unnoticeably, lettering has been called typography, drawn characters, and font design, but it is amazing that one’s senses matched the present progressive form of letter (letter writing) with letter signs.

Book information:

“The History of Japanese Lettering”

Author: Minezo Tani

Publisher: Iwasaki Art

Purchase information:

The publisher went out of business, and the book is currently out of stock. The used book can be purchased on Amazon.日本レタリング史-谷-峯蔵/dp/475341261X

Book information:

“Complete Edition: Characters of Cities”

Author: Yoji Haijima

Publisher: Graphic-sha Publishing Co., Ltd.

Purchase information:

Graphic-sha Publishing Co., Ltd.


Series archive Recommended Book / From TP’s Stack