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平仮名 (ひらがな, hiragana): あ (i.e. "a").

The modern form of the hiragana character あ comes from the cursive form of the kanji 安 (あん, an, i.e. “relaxed”, “cheap”, or “peaceful”). Follow the progression of the different scripts shown in Figures 1 to 4 to understand its origin.

Figure 1. Standard script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho) of the kanji 安, calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper. Note the difference in writing of the character 安, between the 活字 (かつじ, katsuji, i.e. computer font) form and the one executed with a brush.

Figure 2. Semi-cursive script (行書, ぎょうしょ, gyōsho) of the kanji 安, calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

figure_1_2_hiragana_a-horz

Figures 3 and 4. Cursive script (草書, そうしょ, sōsho) of the kanji 安, calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

figure_3_4_hiragana_a-horz

Figure 5. Calligraphy of the hiragana character あ. Note the corresponding shape with the cursive form of the character 安, especially in Figure 3. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

Figure 6. The word あい (ai, i.e. “love”) written in Japanese kana script (かな). The hiragana character い is based on the cursive form of the kanji 以 (い, i, i.e. “by means of”, “because of”, etc. ), which will be explained in our next article. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

figure_5_6_hiragana_a-horz

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Ponte Ryūrui

Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙, ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui) is the pen name of Piotr Ponte L. Sypniewski. He began studying calligraphy in 2001 under Japanese Master Kajita Esshuu (梶田越舟, かじたえっしゅう, 1938 – present).

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