Shodo Harada Roshi: Zen Master and Calligrapher
Calligraphy has a long and rich history within Japan as an esteemed art form and a Zen teaching device. It is well suited to Zen with its emphasis on immediate spontaneous expression. Phrases on the scrolls most often represent familiar sayings or poems from Zen wisdom or Japanese literature. The scrolls are traditionally hung in temples, tea rooms, and individuals’ homes.
Shodo Harada Roshi is internationally recognized both as a Zen teacher and as a world-class master of the fine art of Zen calligraphy. A revered Zen Master in the Rinzai tradition, for the past twenty-five years Shodo Harada has served as the Abbot of Sogenji, a seventeenth-century Rinzai Zen monastery in Okayama, Japan. He is also the Abbot of Tahoma-san Sogenji monastery on Whidbey Island, in the state of Washington. From the beginning of his tenure at Sogenji, Harada Roshi has welcomed Westerners to study with him. His clarity and skill as a Zen Master have drawn international requests to offer training, and inspired his students to establish sanghas (spiritual communities) all over the world. In addition, accomplished Zen teachers from across the globe come to further plumb the depths of Zen through study with Shodo Harada, earning him a reputation as “the roshi’s roshi” – which is to say, the master’s master.
The East Asian Art Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is offering a rare opportunity for the general public to learn about calligraphy and observe the skills of a master Zen calligrapher. The presentation will begin with a brief overview of the history of calligraphy, its symbolism, and Harada Roshi’s own personal journey as a monk and calligrapher, and will be followed by a calligraphy demonstration by the Zen master. Books on Zen and calligraphy will be available for purchase as will the works that Harada Roshi creates over the course of the event.
LACMA West | Free; tickets required | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or reserve online.
Image: Calligraphy demonstration by Harada Roshi, October 2011, Morikami Museum, Delray Beach, Florida. Photo by Alan Gensho Florence.