Tuesday, October 27

New Word: Suzuribako

Guess I can do a "word of the day" here, since I said I was going to and failed to do so. Today's word is: suzuribako. (Oh yes, I never said I'd stick to English words.)

A suzuribako is like a little stationery set from feudal Japan, precursor to the inkstand or desk set. It contains an ink-stick, a grinding stone (suzuri), several brushes and perhaps a container for water. The box is usually of lacquered wood, but this means it needn't always be, and in fact it seems I have a suzuribako at home. It's made of a flimsier cardboard body covered in fabric, which is more commonly found throughout stores that sell exotic merchandise in the States. It fulfills much of the function of a suzuribako but isn't as durable or, I suspect, respectable.

That is to say, it's good enough for me and my purposes, but I wouldn't show it off to honored guests. As of this writing I'm including a picture from the Vanderbilt gallery but tonight I'll replace that with a shot of my own suzuribako.

Why would I have one? Once upon a time, I fancied I'd attempt to learn Japanese brush painting, and then became immediately intimidated by all that it entailed. Then I figured I could at least learn to write kanji, and I did in fact practice for a whole week yet somehow failed to attain complete fluency in the Japanese language. I couldn't even remember any of the characters I practiced, so... I keep it around in my stationery chest and will probably take it out and practice it when I'm a little more earnest about learning Japanese (or, for that matter, any of the Chinese dialects).

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