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Sumi-e Class in Toyokuni Atelier Studio 「水墨画 at 豊國アトリエ / 神田神保町」

One of my dearest friends in Tokyo invited me to a Sumi-e class in well-known Toyokuni Atelier Studio, in Jimbocho.

Sumi-e is a traditional Japanese ink painting technique, which is based on using a brush, black ink and washi paper.  Sumi-e artists spend years practicing basic brush strokes to refine their brush movement and ink flow. One single stroke can produce beautiful tones from deep black to silver-ish grey.


Sumi-e painting has a Zen nature so it’s considered not only an art but also a discipline. It involves a lot of concentration and awareness of every action. It is said that goal of Sumi-e is not to capture the likeliness of the subject but to capture its essence.  (Below Honda Toyokuni’s artworks)



Toyokuni Atelier Studio offers lessons to students of all levels.  Needless to say, we were placed at the beginner class and Yuta-san was in charge of  us that day, since sumi-e master (his dad) Honda Toyokuni was not available.


Ink brushes are similar to the brushes use for calligraphy and are traditionally made from bamboo with goat, cattle, horse, sheep, rabbit, deer, boar and wolf hair. These brush hairs are then tapered to a fine point. It is also important to use a high quality washi paper, thick enough to absorb the ink.


Once a stroke is painted, it cannot be changed or erased but Yuta-san insisted there are “no mistakes” in Sumi-e and that we should concentrate only in having fun. And so we did! Below, some of our “masterpieces”!


And here my Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism↓


The studio also functions as a gallery where Master Toyokuni exhibits his artworks and one can also get books, postcards, painted stones and papier-mâché objects.





I’d like to thank Yuta-san who kindly let me shoot their lovely studio… ありがとうございます!!


Toyokuni Atelier Studio: Kanda-jimbocho 3-1-13 (1st floor), Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0051, Japan. Open Hours: Check the website for their schedule. Fee: Classes in English with Yuta-san ¥1,000 per person, E-mail:, Follow HERE

All photos on this blog were snapped by me unless otherwise noted. If you see something you’d like to share, please be sure to provide a link back to this space. Thank you!



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