I have two deep passions. Black and white photography, and kanji, the system of Japanese writing. The allure of these two systems comes from my attraction to Japanese aesthetics: simplicity, suggestion, irregularity, quiet refinement.
Both photography and kanji can be minimalistic, complex, esoteric, mysterious, and enigmatic.
Kanji (漢字), adopted from Chinese characters, are logograms. That is a new word to me, too. Logogram. A logogram is a written character that represents a whole word or even a phrase. Not a sound. A whole idea. A visual.
That’s what I love about kanji. Each kanji is a story, a picture, an idea.
The Japanese write in pictures. Imagine that! Every time you write anything, you write your thoughts in little pieces of art. Not only ideas, but images, too. Tree actually looks a bit like a tree – 木。 See the skirt of the tree, and the branches at the side? I know, a bit abstract. But, then, abstract is cool.
A river looks like this 川．It is the flowing water down the stream. And 水 – water – is squeezing the river, and out comes water! Swish. I love it!
Every word, every sentence is made up of a gallery of paintings.
Japanese haiku is evaluated by its kanji that are words, but more importantly are a visual dessert.
Seasons, emotions, mountains, temples, red leaf maple – are brush strokes in black on a canvas of life. Whew! I know!
（芭蕉 1644-94 )
hana no ka wa tsuku
As the toll from the bell dims,
The echo rumbles on – on a waft of flowers.
by Matsuo Basho