The production of Ogatsu inkstones was already started in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). According to the anecdote, in the early Edo period (1603-1868), Ogatsu inkstones were gifted to the first feudal lord of Sendai domain, Date Masamune, who visited the Oshika Peninsula for deer hunting. He praised them and gave a reward in return. The second feudal lord, Tadamura was fascinated by their beauty. He employed artisans to make inkstones only for his family and prohibited unauthorized quarries.
●Designated as a Traditional Craft of Japan in 1985
Techniques and developments
Ogatsu stones are black or dark indigo. Their surfaces are smooth and lustrous. These stones work perfectly with inksticks and help produce a good quality of ink. As they are resistant to compression and bending and have low water absorption and high durability, they are excellent for making inkstones.
Ogatsu inkstones today
Before it was greatly damaged by the East Japan Great Earthquake in 2011, Ogatsu in Miyagi produced 90% of Japan’s natural inkstones. Recovery is progressing little by little there now. Ogatsu stones are now used not only for inkstones but also for building materials and tableware.