【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Akama Inkstone (Yamaguchi Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Akama Inkstone (Yamaguchi Prefecture)~


Akama inkstone



【Production area of Akama inkstone】

Shimonoseki City and Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture



【What is Akama inkstone?】

Inkstones made in Shimonoseki City and Ube City in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The origin of the name is because it began to be made in Akamagaseki (now Shimonoseki City).

The raw material is Akama stone, which is mined in Sanyo Onoda City and Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.


When ink is applied with Akama inkstone, the particles become finer, so it is highly evaluated not only for its good color development, but also for its smoothness when writing.

It also has an artistic aspect and is popular as a work of art.


In December 1976, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Akama inkstone】

A major feature is Akama stone.



It contains a lot of quartz and iron, which acts like a grater when making ink.

In addition, the stone is hard, fine-grained, and tenacious, making it easy to work with, making it ideal as an ink stone.

There are various types of inkstones, such as the traditional “nomen inkstone”, the delicately carved “chokoku inkstone”, and the lidded inkstone.


・Quarrying method

The craftsmen themselves enter the mine and quarry.

Because Akama stone dries up easily, it is not suitable for open pit mining, which involves digging from the surface to the bottom.


In order to quarry, expertise in gunpowder and handling skills are required.

In addition, it is not uncommon for it to take more than 10 years to be entrusted with quarrying, as it is necessary to develop an eye for discerning stones that are suitable for inkstones.



【History of Akama inkstone】

Akama inkstone has a history of more than 800 years of continuous production.

This is because the ink stone that is said to have been dedicated to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine by Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1191 still exists today.


In the Edo period, quarrying of Akama stone, which had been free until then, required permission from the Choshu clan.

Since it became a rare and valuable item, it was treated as a tribute for Sankinkotai.


In the Meiji era, when the brush became the mainstream method of writing letters, the production of Akama inkstone reached its peak.

At that time, it is said that the number of craftsmen was about 200 to 300.


With the development of stationery and personal computers, opportunities to write letters with ink have decreased significantly.

However, the traditional techniques that have been handed down from ancient times are still being handed down to the next generation.



【Production process of Akama inkstone】


referring source:Ube City


Akama stone has a thick layer of about 10m.

However, the part that can be used as Akama inkstone is only the stone part that is only about 1m.

The craftsmen quarry after identifying the layer suitable for the inkstone.


There are five types of stones with different colors and hardness.



reddish brown stone



A stone with a pattern that looks like a round eye



bluish stone



A stone with a purple color all over it



The stone has red and blue striped patterns, and its beauty stands out when wet.

There is a legend that it was used for the lord.


Akama stone is sensitive to dryness, so after quarrying it, it should be stored in a dark place with suitable humidity.

Using a hammer, etc., it is shaped into a plate according to the size of the inkstone to be produced.



referring source:Ube City


The process of determining the approximate shape of the inkstone and the position of the land and sea, carving the boundary to a depth of about 3 mm, and making the edges is called “Fuchitate”.

The “land” is where the ink is applied, and the “sea” is the area where the ink is stored.


The procedure for Fuchitate is as follows.

・Cut a plate-shaped stone with a circular saw and mold it to the size of an inkstone.

・Using a chisel, which is a tool for processing metals and rocks, the overall shape is adjusted.

・Scrape with a chisel so that both the front and back sides of the inkstone are flat.

・Use water or gravel as an abrasive to smoothen the surface using jigiri.

・Make a border.


③Rough cutting

referring source:Ube City


Roughly scrape the land and sea parts with a chisel to form the inner part of the inkstone.

A large chisel is used, and the handle is pressed against the craftsman’s shoulder, and the chisel is shaved while applying force.


④Finish carving

When making engraving inkstones or inkstones with lids, elaborate engravings are applied to the surface.

Depending on the fineness of the carving, it may take dozens of days to complete the carving.

The main engraving techniques are as follows.



A technique of engraving so that a picture or pattern stands out on the surface of the inkstone.



A technique of carving to create fine hair-like lines



A technique that brings out the natural texture of the stone by carving it while beating it with a chisel


Next, the craftsman carves the inside using nearly 10 types of chisels, and the process is complete.

The boundary between land and sea is called “Hato”.

It is said that the most difficult task is to beautifully carve the curve of Hato.



referring source:Ube City


This is a process of polishing to remove marks left by the chisel.

First, smooth it with a rough whetstone, and then use sandpaper to finish it down to the finer points.

However, polishing too much will affect how easily the ink will rub off.

Finally, use a sharpening stone to polish.


In order to prevent weathering, lacquer is evenly applied to the parts other than the land and the sea, and it is completed.





Please be aware that we do not,

under any circumstances, sell alcohol to minors.

I'm sorry, You don't buy this product.

Prease enter your birthday.

Prease enter your birthday.: