Many Westerners learn to speak Japanese, but reading & writing is another story. Certainly the most formidable obstacle is kanji (Chinese characters). When I first arrived in Japan I was amazed at kanji, there are just so many. In English we have just 26 letters; however the standard kanji (Joyo Kanji) there are 2,136 characters. Elementary school kids learn 1,006 of these characters (Kyoiku Kanji).
Writing kanji is an art, literally. A couple of years back I did a post on a price chart from 1935 (Japanese only). Below is a bicycle repair price chart dating back to 1965. It is written by hand using a brush (fude 筆）. The chart is so well done that at a glance one would think it were mass-produced printing, yet a close look reveals that it is written by hand.
For those of you that can read Japanese a few things to note.
1. In the old days the local bicycle shop not only repaired bicycles but often carts (two-wheeled trailers attached to the rear of the bicycle), scooters, motorcycles, three wheeled vehicles (Daihatsu 3-Wheeler, Mazda K360 and the infamous Mizet) and small engine (under 660cc) automobiles.(リヤカー、バイク、軽三軽四）
2. Note that Pedal (Pedaru ペダル） is "Petal" (ペタル）.
3. The local bicycle shop made "house-calls" in a radius of 1 kilometer from the shop.
4．Straighten a bent fork, "reform before you replace" was the rule.
Note that Fork (フォーク） is Hooku (ホーク）
Also in the lower right corner is the date given in the typical
reign of the emperor and converts to November 1, 1965.
5. Hammock saddles (ハモック型サドル）
6.. Oil in a bottle （ピン入り油）
7. After normal business hours there was a 50% surcharge.
Yes indeed, in this day and age of perfect computer typed characters where one can select the font, size and print out, one has to admire things like this that were written so incredibly well by hand.