硯 Suzuri Inkstone Made from Kumano Kodō Rock

Cobblestone steps ascending to Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine. Photo by Sydney Solis
Cobblestone steps ascending to Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine.

Along the steep, cobblestone steps of the Kumano Kodō toward Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, you will find some souvenir shops, including a Shodo shop.

Since I am a Shodo fanatic and love all things associated with it – washi paper, haiku and more, the one souvenir I purchased on my pilgrimage was a suzuri, ink stone. Waken is the word for a 和硯 Japanese ink stone.

Cobblestone steps and souvenir shops ascending to Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine on the Kumano Kodo.
Some very steep steps going up! Looking back! Whew!

I’m not your typical consumption-obsessed American, so I don’t buy a lot of things, unless it’s from a Temple Sale, so this suzuri was special.

Suzuri, inkstone from stone found in the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture's Kumano Kodo.

A shodo artisan shop with a family of traditional artisans 山口 Yamaguchi 光峯 Koho is found along the route toward Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine features hand-sculpted suzuris from the slate/shale of ancient quarries or riverbeds of Wakayama’s black, ancient stone.

Suzuri, inkstone from stone found in the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture's Kumano Kodo.

The mother demonstrated its superb smooth surface, essential for Shodo. She put a few water drops on the suzuri and blended a a sumi ink stick on the stone’s smooth surface that had and rich luster, close grain and natural pattern.

The ink stones Considering they are handmade by a family of artisans passing down their ancient craftsmanship, the smallest one I could afford was around 1000.00 ¥ ($100). It’s perfect for letter writing and simple Kanji, katakana, hiragana practice.

Me with the owner of the shodo shop where I bought my hand-crafted suzuri, shodo ink stone, as a souvenir of my Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.
手ずくり硯 曼荼羅の径
Handmade ink stone – the path of Mandala.

Most importantly, I purchased it as my one souvenir because I wanted to honor the artisan for his traditional craftsmanship, as well as own an heirloom piece I can pass down for centuries that has a meaningful story to it – not just something meaningless mass manufactured junk Japan was set up to produce after WWII.

I can really feel the energy in the stone and the craftsmanship each time I use it for a mindful and relaxing shodo practice.

photo by Sydney Solis
Japanese writing is so beautiful. As few people are able to write anymore with a pencil or brush in English, Japanese or any language, working with the hand is important, and Shodo is a great way to do it.
山口 Yamaguchi 光峯 Koho
山口 Yamaguchi 光峯 Koho

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.