I have found a small Shodo fragment stating "一味一禪" - which is not the classical "Zen and Tea are of one taste" (禅茶一味).

What is this supposed to mean? Is it correct Japanese (I suppose it is, coming from an actual Japanese, but she is not here to explain it at the moment).

  • Are you sure that's right? I don't get anything for it on google.. but there is a restaurant in Osaka apparently called 一味禅
    – ssb
    Apr 17 '13 at 6:59
  • Is it 「禪」, not 「禅」? (I don't know about calligraphy but I think we normally write it as 禅 in Japanese... Maybe 禪 is Chinese/Cantonese...?)
    – user1016
    Apr 17 '13 at 13:36
  • 1
    @Chocolate 「禪」は旧字体なんです。
    – Zhen Lin
    Apr 17 '13 at 17:27
  • @ZhenLin ありがとうございます^^ 旧字体というと・・「學問」とか「櫻」とか...(多分)
    – user1016
    Apr 17 '13 at 19:04

Certain forms of caligraphy get closer to poetry (like 漢詩), so it could use phrases and sequences of Kanjis that you won't see anywhere else. As caligraphy is a form of art, it is more interesting to intentionally deviate a bit from common words, because it gets the reader thinking.

I'd consider 一味一禪 to be one of those. I can only guess its meaning, but my guess would be something like "every tea making is an act of zen", or something close to 禅茶一味. Its use of 異体字 (different more traditional forms of the same kanji) 禪 not 禅 also adds another angle to the deviation.

Whether one calls it "correct" Japanese or not is red herring, in my opinion. But you probably don't want to use it in e-mail or other everyday writing.

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