“Arato” + “Unknown grit”

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“Arato” + “Unknown grit”


Japanese Natural Stones, Kanji & Information (general information):

  • Grit/grain size
  • Naori/Stratum/Layer/Type
  • Color
  • Stamps
  • Mines/stones (general introduction)


  1. “Arato” + “Unknown grit”
  2. “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”
  3. “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”


(grit of approx. 200-600)

This chapter also contains the stone mines of which
I’m not certain which category they belong to (= “Grit range?”)…

「荒砥石」 = “Arato” – “Aratoishi” = “Rough whetstone”


= Ai Iwatani/Aiiwatani
(Grit range?)
Aiwatani 1a (stone, 相岩谷産 = produce of “Ai Iwatani”)
Aiiwatani (stone) Aiiwatani Box.png ( = stamp on wooden box)

Aiiwatani 2a1
= stamp of “Kyoto Natural Hone Sales Association”
Kyoto Natural Hone Sales Association 2 天然 = Ten’nen/Tennen = natural
砥石 = Toishi = whetstone/hone
京都 = Kyōto
特産 = Tokusan = Special product
⇒ special product natural whetstone/hone of Kyoto (region, prefecture)
相岩谷産 = Ai Iwatani-san = Aiiwatani production


Use for 鉋 Kan’na (plane), 包丁 Hōchō (kitchen knife),
鑿 or 彫刻刀 Chōkokutō (chisel), 小刀 Kogatana (knife)

= Amakusa (hard/soft) = natural stone around 1K
Amakusa stone mines are located at Japan, Kyushu (island), Kumamoto prefecture.
Amakusa stones has long been used as a general purpose sharpening stone since
the Sengoku period.

Amakusa exists in an white type (tuff stone only) and a coarse red striped type,
also known as “tora-to” (虎砥 = “tiger stone”, 天草虎砥), in which red layers are
mixed in a ripple pattern in tuff stone.
Amakusa map 1a.pngAmakusa map 1b
Amakusa map 1c
The white ones are usually finer & slower, the red are very coarse (around 800)
& faster. The grain structure is often uneven and not ideal for honing razors.
One of the producers is 肥後産(熊本)(Higo Produce (Kumamoto)).

天然天草砥石 = Ten’nen (Tennen) Amakusa Toishi = Natural Amakusa whetstone
Amakusa.jpg (read from R>L) 上白中砥石天草砥石最高級品
= Jōhaku-chū toishi amakusa toishi saikōkyūhin
= Top white medium grit Amakusa whetstone, highest grade product
高級刃物• = kōkyū hamono• = High class cutlery•
一般仕上本職用中砥厚刃物 = Ippan shiage honshoku-yō nakato Atsu hamono
= General medium sharpening finishing for “thick blades” (knives,…)

Amakusa label 2a Amakusa label 1a.jpg
朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi = Asahi tiger brand, (morning) Sun​ Tiger
本天草砥 = Hon Amakusa to
^^マ特撰 = Yamada (?) Tokusen = Yamada (?) special selected
(^^マ is Also seen on “Aoto” & “Binsui” labels. The “Asahi tora” reference, which is
also seen on “山城 / 山城國 / 山城国, Yamashiro stones, is also found on “Aoto” labels!)

Amakusa 2a 天然中砥 = Ten’nen nakato = Natural medium grit stone
特撰 = Tokusen = special selected
天草砥石 = Amakusa toishi = Amakusa whetstone
各種刃物用 = Kakushu hamono-yō = For various blades

→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”: “朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi”
→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi” (or “Arato” + “Unknown grit”):
“備水(砥) = Binsui (-to)”
→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”: “沼田砥 = Numata-to”
(= of which the striped version is also called “tora-to”(虎砥 = “tiger stone”))
→ Also see “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”: “山城 / 山城國 / 山城国, Yamashiro”

雨畑石 (Maybe not a whetstone for razors/knives!)
= Amehata to = Amehata stone, made of slate (粘板岩)
Amehata (雨畑), Yamanashi prefecture, is famous for its “ink stones”.
(Grit range?)

Amehata’s history goes back to the Kamakura period. According to the legend, in 1297, when Nichirō-shōnin 日朗上人, disciple of Nichiren-daishōnin 日蓮大上人 & one of The Six Elder Priests 日蓮六老僧, reached Amehata to erect a temple at Mt. Shichimenzan (七面山) by order of Nichiren, he accidentally discovered upstream of Amehata river a blue/black stone of which fine quality ink stones were made. The Amehata inkstone’s full-scale production started under license of Shōguns 将軍 since the Edo era. In the Meiji period, the “Association on manufacture & distribution of Amehata’s inkstone” was set up. According to data of that time, there were more than 90 inkstone artisans in Amehata. The ink stone & brush is presently less used and production declined, currently there is only one person who works in Amehata.

Because the Amehata’s stone is very close-grained, it is ideal for grinding an ink-cake[inkstick] 墨. The stone is mined from caves, near Mt. Inamata (稲又山), upstream
of the Amehata river.
Reference data: Kenshōan 硯匠庵’s site , Stroll through Yamanashi & Shichimenzan Okunoin 七面山奥之院’s site (Japanese versions only)

This Amehata stone also is noted as a whetstone (砥石), maybe only
for the purpose of ink stone & ink stick, I’m not sure…
産地 (production area): 山梨県南巨摩郡早川町雨畑
= Yamanashi prefecture, Minamikoma district, Hayakawa city, Amehata


(Grit range?)

= Binsui (-to), grit range around 400 – 1K (some estimate lower, or higher)
= middle natural sharpening stone, with relative uniform texture, softer
then Amakusa, often used for swords polishing, after the Kongo-do (Arato).
Binsui is mined at Japan, Kyushu island, Kumamoto prefecture, the same
area where Amakusa is mined
Binsui map 1bBinsui map 1c
Binsui Binsui 2.jpg 天然備水砥 = Ten’nen (Tennen) binsuido = Natural Binsui stone
一本撰別 = Ippon senbetsu = one by one selection (?)

Binsui 1a Binsui 1b
中研ぎ用砥石 = Nakatogi-yō toishi =  Medium grit sharpening stone
天然砥石 = Ten’nen toishi = Natural whetstone
備水砥石 = Binsuido ishi = Binsui whetstone
大型   粒度 (Ōgata Ryūdo, “grit size”) ♯700
用途 (Yōto, “use”)  各種刃物の中研ぎ用
(Kakushu hamono no nakatogi-yō, “for sharpening various blades”)
寸法 (Sunpō, “size”)  215×68×67mm

最高級中砥石 = Saikō-kyū-chū toishi = Finest medium grit stone
特備水砥 = Toku binsuido = Special Binsui stone
^マ (?) 特撰 = Yamada (?) tokusen (special)

→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”: “朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi”


= Chamiko to = Chamiko whetstone
(Grit range?)
Chamiko to map 1a.png

銚子石 / 銚子砥
= Chōshi ishi / Chōshi to = Chōshi stone, = sandstone (砂岩)
= 荒砥, “Arato” = Rough whetstone
産地 (production area):
= Chiba prefecture, Chōshi city, Tokawa town, Shinsei
= Chiba prefecture, Chōshi city, Takagami​ town, Minamikashima
Chōshi map 1a

飯岡石(銚子石)= Īoka ishi (Chōshi ishi) = Iioka stone (Choshi stone)
Whetstone (Dense, gray & yellow sandstone) for civil engineering
産地 (production area): 千葉県海上郡飯岡町
= Chiba prefecture, Unakami / Kaijo district, īoka town (Asahi town?)


= Haguro-to = Haguro whetstone
= 荒砥, “Arato” = Rough whetstone, made of granite (花崗岩), fine grain (細粒)
産地 (production area): 山梨県西八代郡豊和村羽黒沢
= Yamanashi prefecture, Nishiyatsushiro district, Toyohira/Toyokazu village,
Haguro zawa
Haguro-to map 1a

= Hirashima to = Hirashima/Hirajima whetstone
Coarse grain stones, grit approx. 200-600 (粗目, Arame)
Hirashima map 1a.png


= Kasagi to = Kasagi stone
(Grit range?)
産地 (production area): 京都府相楽郡笠置町
= Kyōto prefecture, Sōraku district, Kasagi town
  Kyoto Prefecture kopie.png
Kasagi map.png

= Kinzan/Kanayama stone
(Grit range?)
= 砥石 = toishi = whetstone
岩脈をなす石英粗面岩 = Quartz rough rock forming a dike;
石質緻密・淡緑灰色 = Dense stone / light green-gray colour;
産地 (production area): 秋田県北秋田郡比内町大葛金山付近
= Akita prefecture, Kitaakita district, Hinai town, ōkuzokinzan fukin
(nearby Ōkuzo Kinzan/Kanayama)
Kinzan:Kanayama map 1a.png
→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”: “大葛砥 = Ōkuzo to & 大葛石 = Ōkuzo ishi”

There also exists another kind of  金山石 (Kanayama stone), produced (together
with 新庄石 Shinjō ishi & 小国石 Oguni ishi) in Yamagata prefecture, Shinjō town
& Mogami district. These tuff stones are usually only for rural use.

紀州砥 (富田砥)
= Kishū to (Tomita to), used as whetstone, foundation stone,
groove stone, for civil engineering
= Light yellow (-white) · hard, homogeneous ·
coarse grain sandstone (with about 70% quartz (?))
産地 (production area): 和歌山県田部市
Wakayama prefecture, Tanabe city
和歌山県白浜町, 富田川(白浜駅)
Wakayama Prefecture, Shirahama, Tomita/Tonda river
(nearby Shirahama station)
Kishū:Tomita to map 1aKishū:Tomita to map 1b


= Kizuyama, an eastern mine in Kyoto
(Grit range?)

金剛砂  or  金剛砂石
= Kongō-sha/Kongō-sya = a coarse (sand?)stone, used as a first, coarsest stone in sword polishing, about 80-220 grit. Kongo is found as a “natural” and “synthetic” variant
Kongo-sya map 1a.png


= Moji ishi
産地 (Production area) = 宮城県栗原郡栗駒町荒砥沢
= Miyagi prefecture, Kurihara district, Kurikoma town, Aratozawa
= 荒砥 = Rough/course stone, 中粒砂岩 = Medium grain sandstone
Moji ishi map 1c.png


= Ōmura (Ohmura)
= Ohmura-to = Ohmura whetstone
Coarse grain sandstones, grit approx. 200-600 (粗目, Arame)
Omura 1a
研磨一番 = kenma ichiban =  First polishing (= first stone)
大村砥 = Ohmura-to
紀州砥石特選 = kishū toishi tokusen = Kishu grindstone special selection

Omura map 1aOmura map 1b

= Otaniyama
(Grit range?)
Otaniyama 1b1
Otaniyama 1a Otaniyama 1bOtaniyama 1c


→ Also see “Arato” + “Unknown grit” (or “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”):
“丹波佐伯砥 = Tanba Saeki to”

= Sasaguchi to = Sasaguchi whetstone
Coarse grain stones, grit approx. 200-600 (粗目, Arame)
Sasaguchi map 1a.png


= Takakawa-to = Takakawa whetstone
(Grit range?)
Takakawa map 1a

= Tanba Saeki to = Tanba Saeki (佐伯) whetstone
Tanba Saeki map 1a
Mostly soft & coarse stones. Some are harder & highly sought after.
“Saeki” seems to be similar to “Aoto” but it isn’t an “Aoto”.

There are brown course “Saeki’s” (maybe 800-1K), and black “Saeki” (very rare).
The black ones are harder and finer then the brown variant.

They cut as a 1k but finishes as a 4k or even finer.

= Tazawa to = Tazawa whetstone
(Grit range?)
= 砥石 = toishi = whetstone, 凝灰岩 = Tuff stone
緑色・中硬 = Green · Medium hardness
産地 (production area): 山形県飽海郡平田中野俣
= Yamagata prefecture, Akumi district, Hirata Nakanomata
Tazawa to map 1a

= Tora – to = “Tiger” – stone, = another word for (red) striped “Amakusa”,
also another word for the striped “沼田砥 = Numata-to”
→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi” (or “Arato” + “Unknown grit”): “天草 = Amakusa”
→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”: “沼田砥 = Numata-to”

= Toshima Mika-ge
(Grit range?)
Quartz diorite (石英閃緑岩), Gneiss
産地 (production area): 山梨県南巨摩郡南部町十島
Yamanashi prefecture, Minamikoma district, Nanbu city, Toshima
Toshima map 1a


= Wakayama
Coarse grain stones, grit approx. 200-600 (粗目, Arame)
Wakayama map 1a.png

= Wakinosawa ishi = Wakinosawa stone
(Grit range?)
産地 (production area): 青森県 (Aomori Prefecture),下北郡 (Shimokita district),
脇野沢村 (Wakinosawa village), 武生泊 (Takefu haku);
= 普通砥石 = “Ordinary whetstone”, 石英粗面岩 (quartz rough surface rock)
Wakinosawa map.png
= White, uniform, worse grain is not very noticeable

⇐ Previous chapter: Japanese Natural Stones, Kanji & Information 
⇒ Next chapter: “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”


(1): http://rk-trading.ocnk.net/page/28
(a): http://www.japan-tool.com/tech_knlg/toishi/Natural_Stone_Mines.html
(b): http://yhst-27988581933240.stores.yahoo.net/shobu-asagi-karasu-natural-whetstone-1544g-1544377.html
(c): http://yhst-27988581933240.stores.yahoo.net/nakayama-iromono-hatahoshi-japanese-natural-sharpening-stone.html
(d): http://sharpologist.com/2012/04/an-introduction-to-japanese-hones-pt-1.html
(f): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanba_Province
(g): http://thejapanblade.com/blog/
(h): http://www.thejapanstone.com/Aritcle_hardstone.html
(i): http://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/buying-nakayama-stones-from-ohira-and-imanishi.421539/
(j): http://sharprazorpalace.com/hones/82246-maruichi-question.html
(k): http://sharprazorpalace.com/hones/105095-maruka-nakayama-stamps-2013-a.html
(l): http://www.thejapanstone.com/article_ink_stamps_nakayama_mine.html

Other interesting links:















If you can read Japanese, these books contain more information:

[ 大工道具・砥石と研ぎの技法 ]

[ 京都天然砥石の魅力(改訂・三版)]


This entry was posted in HISTORY & IDENTIFICATION, Japanese Natural Stones. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Arato” + “Unknown grit”

  1. Pingback: “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo” | Fikira

  2. Pingback: “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi” | Fikira

  3. Pingback: Japanese Natural Stones, Kanji & Information | Fikira

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