The history of Suzuka inkstick dates back to about 1,200 years ago. Those inksticks were made by adding animal glue to the lampblack made by burning pine trees harvested from the mountains in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture. In the Edo period (1603-1868), the demand for high-quality inksticks increased due to the expansion of their usage, including for writing feudal lords’ family crests, for dyeing formal dresses, and for studying at temple schools called Terakoya. As a result, Suzuka inkstick production flourished too.
●Designated as a Traditional Craft of Japan in 1980
Techniques and developments
Various materials, such as rapeseed oil, sesame oil, and cottonseed oil, have been used to collect the lampblack and helping to make unique inksticks.
Suzuka inksticks today
There is currently only one workshop producing Suzuka inksticks. Two artisans, who are a father and his son, make these inksticks by following the traditional production method. Since Suzuka inksticks provide an excellent balance between clear lines (made with brushes) and bleed, they are favored by many calligraphers. As a result of the development of colored inksticks and paints made from inksticks and the collaboration with food, they become also popular among dyers, architects, painters, and chefs.