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                            Uniquely Japanese

Haiga has been uniquely Japanese. So, the same problem occurs to non-Japanese as in the case of haiku, i.e. whether or not (a) they can understand it and (b) they can create it. The answer to the two questions ranges from the most generous affirmative to the most unkind denial. Two things ought not to happen here. On the one hand, the Japanese must not take, as in haiku, the cultural isolationist position of denying that non-Japanese can either understand or create haiga. The non-Japanese, on the other hand, must not take, as in the case of haiku, the attitude that their haiga is now so well developed in its own right that they have no longer anything to learn from the Japanese. Such blatant arrogance and narrow-mindedness on both sides, which sadly do exist, are out of the question, and too obvious to be discussed in this paper. However, less arrogant and narrow-minded tendencies need to be addressed in a serious manner as they are likely to escape attention.

     Ask yourself, for instance, whether or not you can tell good lines of Japanese calligraphy from bad when you see them. Can you tell lines and/or brush work by Japanese hand from those done by non-Japanese, including those who have had a formal training in Japanese calligraphy and/or
Nihon-ga or suiboku-ga? When you see good bokashi (wash), sae (smooth lines) nijimi (run), or kasure (broken or grazed line), does it look to you as something of a mistake or something which has not gone well?  Can you appreciate its beauty? Or, don't you think anything? Can you tell the balance, right positioning of components, correct touch or right amount of blank parts of haiga (i.e. what is not painted), the strength and flow of the brush work, and so on? Have you noticed that the technique of haiga is largely the same as that of calligraphy? Can you tell Chinese calligraphy from the Japanese?
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