Ono Dofu and Calligraphy: Elegant Strokes

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Ono Dofu (小野道風) was a calligrapher active during the Heian period (794-1192), and his elegant style of calligraphy captivated many people. Let us explore in detail his life, places associated with him, and works of calligraphy.

Life of Ono Dofu

Ono Dofu (894-966) was an active cultural figure and calligrapher of the early to mid-Heian period. He was born in Kyoto, the cultural center of the Heian period (794-1192), and from a young age was devoted to learning and calligraphy.

Dofu studied calligraphy with his father, Ono Karito, and his talent blossomed. His fame grew at a young age, and he was constantly commissioned by aristocrats and royalty. He was also active as a politician and held important positions of state, but his true passion was calligraphy.

Places Associated with Ono Dofu

Toshodaiji Temple in Nara Prefecture is known as the place associated with Ono Dofu. Toshodaiji Temple is the temple where he left numerous calligraphic works, and his beautiful calligraphy has been preserved in murals and scriptures. In particular, works such as “Kyokusui no banquet” and “Yukiegetsu” are known as his masterpieces.

Rokuharamitsuji Temple in Kyoto City is also important as the place where Dofu spent the last years of his life. Here, too, his calligraphy has been preserved in many of his works, which are admired for their artistic and historical significance.

These places of association are precious places where visitors can experience the art of calligraphy and the Zen spirit of Dofu.

Ono Dofu’s Calligraphic Works

Ono’s calligraphy is known for its beautiful works that combine elegant brushwork and deep philosophy. His calligraphy is characterized by flowing curves and delicate touches, and his artistry is highly acclaimed.

One of his best-known works is the calligraphy “Kyokusui no banquet. This work expresses the beauty of nature with its flowing water-like curves and unique brushwork. Many of his other works, such as “Snow and Moon” and “Smoke and Haze in the Sky,” also focus on seasonal and natural themes, captivating viewers with their beauty and deep philosophies.

Places to View Ono Dofu’s Works

Ono’s works can be viewed mainly at temples, art museums, and other cultural facilities. His calligraphy is exhibited at places associated with him, such as Toshodaiji Temple and Rokuharamitsuji Temple, where visitors can appreciate its artistic and historical value.

In addition, many museums and galleries in Japan, including those in Kyoto and Nara, have exhibited works by Dofu. Seeing the beauty and exquisiteness of his calligraphy up close will give you a deeper understanding of his art.


Ono Dofu left his mark on the history of Japanese calligraphy as a calligrapher with elegant strokes and a deep philosophy. Through his life and works, we can feel the fusion of his spirit and art. His works continue to convey their beauty and depth to many people even today.

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