Britain-born Marc Davies, 47, is a longtime resident of Japan and has been practicing shodō (calligraphy) since 1996. In 2019, he achieved the rank of shihan (Master Instructor) in Japanese calligraphy, and in both 2020 and 2021 he was awarded a national recognition in the art form. You can find examples of his work on Instagram, where he goes by @shodoboy_2.

1. What first drew you to shodō? I was completely fascinated by kanji characters. I was intrigued that the character for speak (言) resembled the way that we drew longitudinal sound waves in physics classes when I was at school. On a short day trip to Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, shortly after I came to Japan, I found myself sitting in a temple garden in Kamakura staring at the name of the temple in kanji. I was fascinated by their symbolism and structure. Years later, in China, I witnessed calligraphers writing on the pavements with water, the characters evaporating moments later. I was hooked.

2. What is a typical calligraphy lesson like? Typically I sit for four to five hours and attempt to copy the monthly models of the designated Chinese poem. I will practice five or six styles of kanji in one sitting.