Custom Enso Japanese Symbol Wall Scroll

Buy a custom Enso symbol wall scroll or portrait here...

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Enso - Japanese Zen Circle
  2. Zen / Chan / Meditation
  3. Appreciation of Truth by Meditation
  4. Ichi wa Zen, Zen wa Ichi
  5. Meditation
  6. Zen Buddhism
  7. Zen Contemplation
  8. Zen Garden
  9. Zen Understanding
10. Zendo / The Zen Way

Enso - Japanese Zen Circle

Japan en sou
Enso - Japanese Zen Circle Wall Scroll

〇 / 円相 is Enso, which is really NOT a regular Japanese Kanji character. It falls more into the category of a symbol. In this case, it can be considered a religious symbol, as it is strongly-associated with Japanese Zen Buddhism.

Enso Circle

〇 / 円相 is a typical appearance of Enso with an inscription by master calligrapher Bishou Imai.

Some call this "The Circle of Enlightenment." Others call it the "Infinity Circle." If you actually took the meanings of the two Kanji that make up the word "Enso," you could read it as "Mutual Circle" or "Circle of Togetherness." I think the Enso symbol can simply mean different things to different people. Therefore, you should let it have the meaning that you perceive.

Please note when you start making your customizations for an Enso wall scroll, you will see some possible ways it might be written, listed under the different calligraphy styles that we normally offer. However, Enso does not really conform to normal Asian calligraphy styles. Therefore, do not expect that you can make a style selection and expect the actual result to be identical. The appearance of your Enso will be determined by the artist's personal style, feeling, mood, etc. You cannot control or constrain that, as you cannot constrain art, without removing some of the artistic quality. Note: Our calligraphy selection process does not take this into account, as it was designed for Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji selection.

Please ignore the part where you are invited to pick a calligraphy style in the following pages.

Both our Japanese and Chinese master calligraphers are Buddhist (not as devout as monks but Buddhist none the less). Therefore, you can be assured that your Enso symbol will be written with the utmost effort and feeling.

By the way, when "Enso" is written in Kanji, it looks like this: 円相

Zen / Chan / Meditation in Zen Buddhism
China chán
Japan zen
Zen / Chan / Meditation Wall Scroll

First let's correct something: The Japanese romanization for this character, "Zen" has penetrated the English language. In English, it's almost always incorrectly used for phrases like "That's so zen." Nobody says "That's so meditation" - right? As the title of a sect, this would be like saying, "That's soooo Baptist!"

This character by itself just means "meditation." In that context, it should not be confined to use by any one religion or sect.

Regardless of the dictionary definition, more often than not, this character is associated with Buddhism. And here is one of the main reasons:
Zen is used as the title of a branch of Mahayana Buddhism which strongly emphasizes the practice of meditation.
However, it should be noted that Buddhism came from India, and "Chan Buddhism" evolved and developed in medieval China. The Chinese character "Chan" was eventually pronounced as "Zen" in Japanese. Chan Buddhists in China have a lot in common with Zen Buddhists in Japan.

More about the history of Zen Buddhism here.

Please also note that the Japanese Kanji character for Zen has evolved a little in Japan, and the two boxes (kou) that you see at the top of the right side of the character have been replaced by three dots with tails. Japanese Zen Kanji The original character would still be generally understood and recognized in Japanese (it's considered an ancient version in Japan) but if you want the specifically modern Japanese version, please click on the zen Kanji to the right. Technically, there is no difference in Tensho and Reisho versions of Zen since they are ancient character styles that existed long before Japan had a written language.

Chinese Zen/Chan CharacterThere is also an alternate/shorthand/simplified Chinese version which has two dots or tails above the right-side radical. This version is also popular for calligraphy in China. If you want this version, just click the character to the right.

Further notes: Zen is just one of seven sects of Buddhism practiced in Japan. The others are 律 Ritsu (or Risshū), 法相 Hossō, 論 Sanron 華嚴 Kegon, 天台 Tendai, and 眞言 Shingon.

Appreciation of Truth by Meditation

China xīn yìn
Japan shin nin
Appreciation of Truth by Meditation Wall Scroll

心印 is a Buddhist concept that simply stated is "appreciation of truth by meditation."

It's a deep subject, but my understanding is that you can find truth through meditation, and once you've found the truth, you can learn to appreciate it more through further meditation. This title is not commonly used outside of the Buddhist community (your Asian friends may or may not understand it). The literal translation would be something like "the mind seal," I've seen this term translated this way from Japanese Buddhist poetry. But apparently, the seal that is stamped deep in your mind is the truth. You just have to meditate to find it.

Soothill defines it this way: Mental impression, intuitive certainty; the mind is the Buddha-mind in all, which can seal or assure the truth; the term indicates the intuitive method of the Chan (Zen) school, which was independent of the spoken or written word.

Reference: Soothill-Hodous Dictionary of Chinese Buddhism

See Also:  Zen

Ichi wa Zen, Zen wa Ichi

Japan ichi wa zen zen wa ichi
Ichi wa Zen, Zen wa Ichi Wall Scroll

一は全、全は一 means, "One is all, all is one," in Japanese.

一は全、全は一 is a somewhat well-known modern proverb in Japanese. However, many will associate it with an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist, a popular Japanese anime series.

Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.


China míng xiǎng
Japan mei sou
Meditation Wall Scroll

This encompasses the idea of meditation. It's also a term used to describe a deep form of day-dreaming, exploring one's imagination, the act of contemplating, or the idea of contemplation. 冥想 is often associated with Buddhism, however, the word "Zen" in Japanese (or "Chan" in Chinese) is probably more commonly used (or better known in the west).

See Also:  Zen

Zen Buddhism

China chán zōng
Japan Zen shuu
Zen Buddhism Wall Scroll

禪宗 is one way to title "Zen Buddhism." Because the original pronunciation of Zen in Chinese is Chan, you'll also see this expressed as Chan Buddhism.

From the Buddhist Dictionary:
The Chan, meditative or intuitional, sect usually said to have been established in China by Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth patriarch, who brought the tradition of the Buddha-mind from India. This sect, believing in direct enlightenment, disregarded ritual and sūtras and depended upon the inner light and personal influence for the propagation of its tenets, founding itself on the esoteric tradition supposed to have been imparted to Kāśyapa by the Buddha, who indicated his meaning by plucking a flower without further explanation. Kāśyapa smiled in apprehension and is supposed to have passed on this mystic method to the patriarchs. The successor of Bodhidharma was 慧可 Huike, and he was succeeded by 僧璨 Sengcan; 道信 Daoxin; 弘忍 Hongren; 慧能 Huineng, and 神秀 Shenxiu, the sect dividing under the two latter into the southern and northern schools: the southern school became prominent, producing 南嶽 Nanyue and 靑原 Qingyuan, the former succeeded by 馬祖 Mazu, the latter by 石頭 Shitou. From Mazu's school arose the five later schools.

Zen Contemplation

China rù dìng
Zen Contemplation Wall Scroll

This title can be defined as Zen contemplation in Japanese, or sit quietly in (Buddhist) meditation in Chinese. It also carries a similar meaning in Korean Hanja. Therefore, this is a rather universal term for meditation in the context of Buddhism throughout the Orient.

Can also be translated as "Meditatively equipoised" or "enter into meditation by stilling the karmic activities of deed, speech, and thought."

The original Sanskrit word is samapanna. In Tibetan: snyoms par zhugs pa.

Zen Garden

China chán yuán
Japan zen sono
Zen Garden Wall Scroll

This literally means "meditation garden." The first character happens to be known as Zen in the west (pronunciation coming from Japanese) but this title is not often used in Japan (won't be recognized as a Japanese title). In fact, the title "Zen Garden" is basically made up by westerners.

Zen Understanding

China cān chán
Zen Understanding Wall Scroll

This title speaks of reaching an understanding (of Zen or the world). It also means "to practice meditation." The two concepts lead you to the idea that meditation leads to understanding. 參禪 is pretty deep, so you can do your own research, or decide what this means for you.

This can also be defined in a more complex way as "thoroughly penetrating with meditative insight."

Zendo / The Zen Way

China chán dào
Japan zen dou
Zendo / The Zen Way Wall Scroll

This title is used in certain contexts but is not widely-known by the general population of China or Japan.

From Japanese, you will see this title romanized as "zendo," which is the brand name of a board game, and also a title used by some martial arts studios and karate dojos. Oddly, many translate this as "zen fist" although there is no "fist" in the title. If you literally translated this title, it would be "meditation way" or "meditation method."

In Chinese, this would be "chan dao" with the same literal meaning as the Japanese title. It's used in China by just a handful of martial arts styles/studios.

You should only order this title if you really understand the meaning, and it has some personal connection to you (such as practicing a martial art style that uses this title, or if you love the board game Zendo). Many who see your wall scroll will not be familiar with this title, and you'll have some explaining to do.

禪The first character can also be written in a more complex traditional way as shown to the right. Let us know in the special instructions for your calligraphy project if you want this style.

禅If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, the first character will automatically be written with an extra dot on top. This is the variant form of the original Chinese character which is commonly used in modern Japan Kanji. See sample to the right.

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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Enso - Japanese Zen Circle 〇 / 円相en sou / ensou / en so / enso

zenchán / chan2 / chan ch`an / chan
Appreciation of Truth by Meditation 心印shin nin / shinninxīn yìn / xin1 yin4 / xin yin / xinyin hsin yin / hsinyin
Ichi wa Zen, Zen wa Ichi 一は全、全は一ichi wa zen zen wa ichi
Meditation 冥想mei sou / meisou / mei so / meisomíng xiǎng
ming2 xiang3
ming xiang
ming hsiang
Zen Buddhism 禪宗
Zen shuu / Zenshuu / Zen shu / Zenshuchán zōng
chan2 zong1
chan zong
ch`an tsung
chan tsung
Zen Contemplation 入定rù dìng / ru4 ding4 / ru ding / ruding ju ting / juting
Zen Garden 禪園
zen sono / zensonochán yuán
chan2 yuan2
chan yuan
ch`an yüan
chan yüan
Zen Understanding 參禪
cān chán / can1 chan2 / can chan / canchan ts`an ch`an / tsanchan / tsan chan
The Zen Way
禅道 / 禪道
zen dou / zendou / zen do / zendochán dào / chan2 dao4 / chan dao / chandao ch`an tao / chantao / chan tao
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.

All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.

When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.

Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.

A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.