As a college student, how you fit in within the demographics of students who take calligraphy lessons is quite interesting: either you find yourself sticking out as the oldest among a crowd of elementary school students, or you’re conspicuously the youngest among adults over twice your age. (To be fair, as a foreigner, you pretty much stick out wherever you are but that’s beside the point!) The reason for this is that students who pursue calligraphy as an extracurricular activity typically practice in clubs at school, rather than taking outside lessons, and working folks, of course, hardly have time to take these kinds of lessons.
My class was the latter, and the two other students were both in their 50’s or 60’s (I never asked directly) and at least one of them was a grandparent. Since they’ve both been practicing calligraphy for at least 8 years, their writing already looked perfect in my eyes, so at first I wondered why they were still taking classes. However, it didn’t take long for me to come across the answer: these lessons were also important social gatherings. The students and our instructor always chatted about anything and everything while during our lessons, and the atmosphere was always very warm and friendly. I could tell that, while the student-teacher relationships were always upheld (by the way they were speaking), they were truly friends as well.
Comparing the cultural emphasis on handwriting in Japan to two other countries that I’m familiar with, there’s a similar attitude in China, but America doesn’t value handwriting as highly. My dad, an immigrant from China, was very proud of his handwriting and calligraphy, but he realized that these skills are not nearly as important in America, so unlike my calligraphy instructor, he didn’t feel the need to comb over my handwriting as a child.