Ogatsu Stones

What is Ogatsu stone?

What is Ogatsu stones? The material used for the Ogatsu "ink stones" is Ogatsu stone which is quarried from 200 - 300 million-year-old layers in Kitakami mountain near Ogatsu town.

The features of the stone are:

  • 100% homogeneous grain
  • Glossy
  • Pure black
  • High strength for compression and bending
  • Low water permeability
  • Less deterioration

Because of these features, Ogatsu stone is suitable for display and for the making of ink stones.
In additional, Ogatsu stone is really rare, so 90% of Japanese ink stones is made in this region.

About Ogatsu Ink Stones

Ogatsu Ink Stone "Ink stones" is one of the main utensils needed for Japanese calligraphy. (Others are Fude(brush), Sumi(ink stick), and paper.) The history of "ink stones" dates back to Muromachi period (1336 - 1573).

Because of the superb quality of ink stones made in Ogatsu, they were used as gifts for the shogunate and other upper-class people.
The famous shogunate, Masamune Date, was one of the "famous and powerful" who used Ogatsu ink stones.

The technique of making Ogatsu ink stones has been handed down from generation to generation for the past 600 years.
Ogatsu ink stones are the best in Japan because both the technique and material used are of the highest quality.

Watch the Ogatsu Ink Stones Making Technique Live!

Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step-by-Step Explanation

How to Make Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step1, Quarrying 1. Quarrying
Peeling material from the surface of the stone layer using a lever.

How to Make Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step2, Cutting 2. Cutting
Choosing a good-quality piece and cutting it into a pre-defined size. In this process, the thickness and the basic shape of ink stones are decided.

How to Make Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step3, Sand filing 3. Smoothing
Putting the cut pieces of stones on a rotating filing disk machine, the stone surfaces are smoothed by washing them with gravel and water.

How to Make Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step4, Carving 4. Carving
Carving a piece of stone into the shape of ink stones by firstly making the "frame"; secondly carving the inside, and finally making more detailed carving.

How to Make Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step5, Polishing 5. Polishing
Polishing the surface with a whetstone and sand paper.

How to Make Ogatsu Ink Stones - Step6, Carving 6. Finishing
Finishing can be done in three different ways: polish-finishing with lacquer, firing-finishing, or ink-finishing.

National Object of Traditional Craftwork

The trademark of national object of traditional craftwork The Ogatsu ink stone was designated as the one of the national objects of traditional craftwork in 1985.