When foreigners come to Japan, it’s natural they’ll encounter objects that are common and familiar to Japanese people yet strange and exotic to us. Like those bamboo mimikaki ear cleaners, which I thought were scoops for tea ceremony the first time I saw them, to the great amusement of my Japanese girlfriend at the time. Or those ‘hanko’ kanji name stamps, which are used on official documents and contracts in lieu of signatures in Japan, so mysterious to Westerners. Another example is shikishi, thick cardboard squares which are used for signing autographs, recording memories for posterity or capturing artwork you want to keep. As with most things in Japan, these writing boards have a long history, originally used to display haiku or waka poetry in Zen Buddhist tea rooms in the 12th century, though these days they’re carried by fans at conventions hoping to get an autograph by their favorite artist, or as a way for people to record messages for a friend who’s leaving, etc. Now J-List carries blank shikishi writing boards so you can bring them to the summer anime conventions and get proper autographs from Japanese guests you meet, or keep a few on hand for any time you want to send someone a really special message. In addition, we’ve brought back our custom kanji message writing service, allowing you to get any kanji character, name or message written in proper Japanese calligraphy by our native staff.
Shikishi writing boards are a great way to capture an emotion.