Ink Stone in Yamanashi

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I went to Amahata village in Yamanashi. This village is located to the north west of Minobu. It is a very quiet but interesting and slightly spooky place.

This place is famous for ink stones – the stone used to hold ink when painting caligraphy. I found this ink stone museum. It’s awesome.

Ink stones were first produced about 700 years ago. Nichiren , the founder of Nichiren sect in Buddhism told his student to explore this area. He discovered beautiful stone in the upper stream of the Amahata river. The priest asked a local person to carve the stone and the person made a great ink stone. Since then, ink stones in Amahata became very famous all over Japan. The golden age was the Meiji Era when about 100 artisans were working together there. However, after the Second World War, the number of artisans decreased to only a few and today only one person carves ink stone in Amahata. It’s a shame that so many traditional skills have been abandoned.

    

 

 

 

You can see how to make ink stone and if you want, visitors can learn how to carve their own ink stone. This stone doesn’t absorb water very much so even if you keep ink in the stone over one night, the ink stays as it is. The hardness of this local stone is just right for ink stone. You can cut it with a normal saw but it’s very durable. Once you buy one you can use it for a very long time. Since the quality is excellent, the prices are not low. A small one is cheaper, starting from 3,000 yen and a very big one with elaborate one is 350,000 yen.

 

 

 

They are all beautiful. I felt like learning calligraphy. Yamanashi also produces good handmade Japanese paper. Paper for calligraphy, postcards, pads and envelopes, brush, and Indian ink are sold. This museum is designed very well. The windows are set in the lower part of the wall so that we can see the lake Amahata ( a dam lake ). The color of the lake is mysterious and the big sandy mountain made the scenery more interesting. The sandy mountain in the lake was made by heavy rain. The sand ran down from the mountain to the nearby dam.

They say the end of November is a good time to view autumn colors. I hope to visit Amahata again at that time to enjoy hot springs and tofu dishes.

They don’t have many visitors. Probably not many people know this place.

I would like more people to visit it but on the other hand I don’t want it to become a noisy place. I have mixed feelings.