Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. This trip completes her journey through the prefectures of Japan with the 47th, Yamaguchi prefecture. In the town of Shimonoseki she came upon the beautiful, chocolate-colored inkstone known as Akama Suzuri, a writing implement that had its origin during Japan’s Muromachi era, 1336 – 1573.
The Akama suzuri (inkstone) dates back about 600 years to the Muromachi era. On this day our shopkeeper KASHIYUKA visited the Akamagaseki Suzuri Gyokkodo studio, founded in 1896. “The inkstones I used when I was child were pitch black,” she says, “I’d no idea there were inkstones with this sort of gentle air.”
To commorate my 47th purchase I bought an inkstone, something I’d long been interested in. I visited a studio that made Akama suzuri, a traditional handcrafted item in Yamaguchi prefecture, drawn by its warm, chocolatey color and beautifully carved form.
Purchase No. 48【Akama Suzuri】This inkstone made from the cacao-colored stone of Akama possesses the beauty of a sculpture.
“The inkstone is a stationery utensil for grinding down sumi block ink, of course, but at the same time, while you’re preparing the ink it creates a moment for you to ponder the characters you’re about to set down on paper, and time to concentrate your mind,” inkstone artisan and director of the Akamagaseki Suzuri Gyokkodo studio in Shimonoseki, Nobuo Horio explained.
Akama suzuri is a handcraft originating in the Muromachi era around the towns of Moji and Shimonoseki, along the Kanmon Straits. The material is a stone known as Akamaishi, formed from ash deposited upon a lake from a nearby volcano, some 100 million years ago. The artisan himself is the one who goes into the caves and quarries to identify and mine the stone.