Japanese Language Blog

Why Japanese Traditional Arts End in ‘Do’ Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in Culture, Grammar

As Japanese language learners, we are introduced to Japanese traditions and arts from time to time. Let us take a look at some of these arts and how they are performed.

The kanji ‘ 道 ’ signifies path or route. The 訓読み kunyomi (Japanese reading) for this kanji is みち michi and its 音読み onyomi (Chinese reading) is どう dō. It is interesting to note that names of many Japanese traditional arts end in 道.

In Chinese, 道 (pronounced as dao or tao) means much more than just ‘path’ or ‘route’. It has a broader philosophical concept. 道 indicates the manner or way in which something is performed or achieved.

Many Japanese arts and traditions were influenced by the Chinese and Buddhist culture. Similarly, the Chinese concept of  道 influenced Japanese philosophy. 道 in the names of Japanese arts signifies a process in which an art should be performed in order to achieve a specific goal.


茶道 sadō is Japanese tea ceremony. It is also known as ちゃどう chadō or ちゃのゆ chanoyu. The tea which is commonly used in sadō is called 抹茶 maccha, a special variety of powdered green tea. Sadō is not a simple tea party, it is more than just a social gathering. The essence of Japanese tea ceremony is rooted in the concept of 和敬清寂 (わけいせいじゃくwakeiseijaku). 和 stands for peace, 敬 stands for respect, 清 stands for pure and 寂 stands for tranquil. The practice of sadō revolves around proper conduct and discipline.



More popularly known as 生け花 ikebana, 華道 kadō is the Japanese way of flower arrangement. It aims at creating a simple yet attractive flower decoration. The triangular asymmetry of Japanese flower arrangement symbolises man, earth and heaven. Kadō is a popular recreational activity not only in Japan, but all across the globe.



書道 shodō is the art of Japanese calligraphy. Japanese children are taught the basics of shodō at schools. Japanese calligraphy clubs are also popular in high schools and universities. 筆 fude or calligraphy brush, 墨 sumi or ink and 和紙 washi or Japanese paper are the three important writing tools used in shodō. Shodō is more than just calligraphy, it is an art of painting letters. The art of shodō has been practised and admired for centuries in Japan.



The term 武道 budō is used for Japanese martial arts. The main principle of budō is to train the mind and spirit. Some popular budō styles are 剣道 Kendō, 柔道 Judō, 空手道 Karatedō and 弓道 Kyudō.

The art of kendō or Japanese sword fighting, developed from 剣術 kenjutsu (Japanese swordsmanship). At every strike the participant shouts out a word that defines the strike. Compared to other Japanese traditional sports, Kendō is quite loud and noisy. Nowadays, kendō is practised and performed in a sports hall. Wooden or bamboo swords are used instead of real swords.


Judō is comparatively a new form of martial arts. Judō techniques comprise throwing and grappling. This defence mechanism is very popular around the world. Judō is also included in the olympic games.


Karatedō originated in Okinawa and was introduced to the mainlands of Japan not before 20th century. However, its worldwide popularity has gained it a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics, that will be held in Tokyo. The main techniques of karatedō are punches and kicks.


Kyudō is the Japanese traditional art of archery. The 弓 yumi (Japanese bow) used in kyudō is pretty heavy and even taller than the archer.


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About the Author: ranita

Ranita is a Japanese language professional and culture enthusiast. In addition to Japanese, she speaks English, Hindi, Bengali. She has also learned German and Spanish. Her hobbies include traveling, taking photographs and collecting cute stuffs.