The origins of the Ogatsu Suzuri can be traced back to the Muromachi period (1392-1573). Then, at the beginning of the 17th century, two inkstones were presented to the military commander, Date Masamune, who was on a deer hunt on Toojima, an island off the Ojika Peninsular. It seems that he was highly delighted with the stones and reciprocated generously.
Date's son, Tadamune, also recognized the skill with which these inkstones were fashioned and engaged craftsmen to make inkstones for the clan. It then seems that he placed the mine from which the stone was sourced under a monopoly and did not allow outsiders to mine there.
The most important part of an inkstone is the houbou, or bed on which an ink stick is rubbed in a little water. It is the texture and perfect degree of hardness of this surface which is a particular feature of the Ogatsu Suzuri. The stones are made from a type of slate and are either black or a deep indigo in color, have a rich luster and a smooth surface. Some highly fashioned, others are almost as they were mined.
The most important part of an ink stone is the griding bed of the stone, which serves as the teeth which grind the ink stone. Ogatsu Suzuri ink stones are renowned for the perfect balance of roughness, fineness, hardness and even softness found in the grinding bed of their stones. The stones are either black or dark indigo, and have a rich, glossy luster and a smooth finish.
How to make
Ogatsu Suzuri ink stones have been renowned since the Muromachi period, and boast a history and tradition going back over 600 years. The stones are still hand-crafted in the same painstaking traditional methods, and the diligence and passion of a single craftsman is responsible for bringing each individual ink stone to completion.