“Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”

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“Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”
(Updated: 2017, April, Mai)


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”

“Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”

(grit of approx. 1K – 5K)

「中砥石」 =  “chū toishi” – “Nakato” – “Nakatoishi” = “Medium whetstone”
「仕上げ砥石」-「仕上げ砥石」 = “Shiage toishi” = “Finishing whetstone”
(= not a finishing stone for razors!)

A finishing stone for knifes, tools,… is very different from
a finishing stone for razors

仕上砥石 = “Shiage toishi” = more used on knife finishing stones
合砥=”Awasedo” = seems to be even finer, I believe it to be used
more often on razor finishing/polishing stones

A finishing stone for an axe is indeed a finishing stone, but
probably useless for razors, a finishing stone for razors
on the other hand is probably useless for an axe…


= Aizu -to = Aizu whetstone (Update ’17, April)
Aizu map 1a Aizu map 1b.png “Aizu” is a mid-range
natural stone (中砥) similar to “Aoto” at approximately 3k to 5k grit, from
Northern Japan, traditionally mined during the summer, in winter the large
stones were cut into smaller useable pieces in house. However, one winter,
due to severe cold, all windows were closed and all the workers were exposed
to high levels of stone dust. This made everyone get lung disease with high death
rates around 1950. No “Aizu” have been made after 1950’s. “Aizu” was used for agriculture tools, not as popular as “Aoto”, thus a lot cheaper. Some, or many “Aizu”
seem to be harder and faster then “Aoto” with a similar finish (maybe a bit finer).

Aizu -to(会津砥) byakko to (白虎砥) kopie Aizu 2a kopie Aizu 2b kopie
優良, yūryō = excellent; 品質, hinshitsu = quality;
特撰,  toku sen = special
This would be an Aizu-to (会津砥), 白虎砥 shiro tora to (White tiger stone)

= 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” and “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”

阿仁石 (Update ’17, April)
= Ani ishi = Ani stone
石英粗面岩 = Quartz rough surface rock
鉱山研を砕石 (Crushed stone of mining laboratory?);
中砥石 = nakato = medium grit stone
産地 (place of production): 秋田県北秋田郡阿仁鉱山付近
= Akita prefecture, Kitaakita district, Ani kōzan fukin (nearby Ani mine)
Ani ishi map 1a.png

青砥 (Update ’17, April, Mai)
= Aoto
Aoto map 1a.png
Okabana Aoto
岡花青砥 = Okabana Aoto: this is the ancient Aoto mining site

天然青砥 = Ten’nen (Tennen) Aoto = Natural Aoto
人造青砥 = Jinzō Aoto = ARTIFICIAL Aoto
Jinzō Aoto

Tanba no kuni 丹波國.jpg
登録商標 = Tōroku shōhyō = Registered trademark
丹波國産出 = Tanba kuni sanshutsu = Tamba province production
本山青砥 = Honyama Aoto = Authentic Aoto
山マ特撰 = Yamada (?) Tokusen = Yamada (?) special selected
This label is an Asahi tora produkt
(朝日虎, Asahi Tiger, (morning) Sun​ Tiger)

Aoto labels 1a1 Aoto labels 1a2 Aoto labels 1a3
Aoto labels 1a4 Aoto labels 1a5 Aoto labels 1a6 Aoto 2a
保証 品質 (Read up>down & R>L) = Hoshō Hinshitsu = guaranteed quality
登録商標 = Tōroku shōhyō = Registered trademark
丹波國産出 = Tanba kuni sanshutsu = Tamba province production
丹波國特産 = Tanba kuni tokusan = Tamba special product
本山青砥 = Honyama Aoto = Authentic Aoto
正本山青砥 = Shohonyama Aoto = Real, authentic Aoto
丹和製砥所精撰 = Tanwasei to-sho seisen = Special selected “Tanwa” made stone

Aoto Kyoto 1a kopie 保証 品質 (Read up>down & R>L)
= Hoshō Hinshitsu = guaranteed quality;
ダルマ印 (In the red “Daruma / Dharma” symbol)
= Daruma shirushi = Dharma brand
京都府特産 = Kyōtofu tokusan = Kyoto prefecture special product
優良本山青砥石 = Yūryō Motoyama Aotoishi
= Excellent blue (Aoto) main mountain whetstone
大阪 = Ōsaka = Osaka
精撰 = seisen = Perfection

→ Also see “荒内青砥  or  荒内砥 = Ara uchi Aoto”
→ Also see “朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi”
→ Also see “改青砥 = Kai-Aoto”
→ Also see “神前 = Kouzaki, Tanba”
→ Also see “Mitani / Miya”
→ Also see”大泉砥 = Oizumi-to”
→ Also see “助川砥 (青砥) = Sukugawa  to (Aoto)”
→ Also see “Tamba/Tanba Province”
→ Also see “天狗砥 = Tengu-do”
→ Also see “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”: “Yamashiro 山城 / 山城國 / 山城国”

荒内砥  or  荒内青砥 (Update ’17, April)
= Ara uchi / Arauchi to (Aoto)
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, contains sandstone and sandstone slate;
青色粘板岩・塊状・緻密 = Blue slate / massive / dense
産地 (production area): 栃木県芳賀郡茂木町上深沢
= Tochigi prefecture, Haga district, Motegi town, Kamifukasawa
Ara uchi : Arauchi to (Aoto) map 1a1
→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto”

朝日虎印 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Asahi tora jirushi = Asahi Tiger brand = (morning) Sun​ Tiger brand, a mark seen on
Amakusa (天草), Aoto (青砥), Natsuya (なつや), Yamashiro (山城 / 山城國 / 山城国), … stones

Often seen together with:
Asahi tora 1a
and/or with the ^^マ (Yamada?) mark:
Asahi tora 1b

Or with:
Asahi tora? Matsunaga Co “Sun Tiger Brand” “The Matsunaga Co. LTD.”
(松永トイシ , Matsunaga Toishi)

→ Also see “Arato” + “Unknown grit” (or “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”):
“天草 = Amakusa”
→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto ”
→ Also see “Arato” + “Unknown grit” (or “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”):
“備水(砥) = Binsui (-to)”
→ Also see “なつや砥 = Natsuya”
→ Also see “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”: “山城 / 山城國 / 山城国 = Yamashiro”


= 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 “朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi”


合掌寺砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Gasshō tera to
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, tuff stone (凝灰岩), dense, light yellow
産地 (production area): 静岡県田方郡大仁町小室
= Shizuoka prefecture, Tagata district, Ōhito city, Komuro
Gasshō tera to map 1a

郡上砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Gujō to, a less known stone which can be used as a nagura (名倉)
Gujō to 1a 2.jpg 郡上名倉 = Gujō nagura
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone (quartz porphyrites penetrating the granite)
産地 (production area): 岐阜県吉城郡神岡町伊西
= Gifu prefecture, Yoshiki district, Kamioka city, Inishi
Gujō map 1a
Gujo Nakura originally is said to be used for finishing (with mirror finish),
although not as famous as the Mikawa nagura.


はっか  or  八箇
= Hakka, a mine (“Western of Mt. Atago) which produced good stones,
usually to the softer and coarser side.


五嵐 , 五十嵐, 五十嵐砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Igarashi to(ishi)
= Andesite rock (安山岩類)
Igarashi 2a
Igarashi 1a = 五十嵐砥
Igarashi 2a 天然砥石, Ten’nen toishi = Natural whetstone
亀印 = Kamejirushi = “Kame” brand
(亀 = “Kame​” = “Turtle”)
特選刃物用 = Tokusen hamono-yō = For special cutlery
五十嵐砥 = Igarashi stone
中仕上研兼用 = For medium finish use
(Grain size 800# ~ 1000#)
Igarashi 2b
= Natural whetstone, mostly white, or greenish/blueish (maybe a bit finer).
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, often seen as a sort of natural
bevel setter for razors (relative equivalent of a 1-2K stone)
= Also named:
= Fukudaira to = Fukudaira stone

産地 (production area): 富山県魚津市古鹿熊 = Toyama prefecture, Uozu city,  Furukakuma
Igarashi map 1a.png
Some say it is a stone from Igarashi, Tsugawa (town), Fukushima Prefecture…

伊予砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Iyoto / Iyo-to
伊豫銘砥 (Iyomi to)
= 中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone (relative equivalent of a 800-1500 stone)
= Mica andesite rock
産地 (production area):
愛媛県伊予市上唐川 = Ehime prefecture, Iyo city, Kamikarakawa
愛媛県伊予郡砥部町外山 = Ehime prefecture, Iyo district, Tobe town, Toyama
Iyo map 1a EhimeIyo map 1a1
Iyo-to.jpg 伊予砥藍石 = Iyoto ranseki = Iyo whetstone, Indigo stones (?)
Iyo, Shira-to.jpg
(合?)礦山産 = (Gō?) kōzan san = Produced from Mountain
正本山白砥 = Shōhonzan shira to = True Mountain Shirato
(合?)採掘特撰 = (Gō?) saikutsu toku sen = Special mine extraction

Shirato originally indicated “Iyo”, nowadays Shirato is used for Binsui as well.
Iyo-to is similar to Amakusa or Binsui, Iyo being smoother though.

伊豫銘砥 (Iyomi to) = possibly an ancient name for Iyoto 伊予砥
Iyo ancient? 1a 2 Iyo ancient? 1b 2


浄教寺砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Jōkyōji to (Jōkyōdera-to) = Jōkyōji (Jōkyōdera) whetstone
(means “Buddhism worship / Buddhist temples”)
= 中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone,
= Tuff stone which is stratified with sandy shale
産地 (production area): 福井県足羽郡足羽町浄教寺
= Fukui Prefecture, Asuwa district, Asuwa town, Jōkyōji
Jōkyōji map 1a


= Kai-Aoto
Kai-Aoto map 1a.png
→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto”

= Kouzaki, Tanba, with different mines which produced soft – hard Aoto,
Kouzaki is famous for their hard and fine Aoto stones, the Kouzaki Aoto mine
was closed more than 30 years ago…
Kouzaki.JPG Kouzaki is situated in the west side of Kyoto. It was famous for its medium
grit stones called Aoto (Blue stone). Kouzaki Aoto is considered to be the best Aoto, but
they are almost impossible to find nowadays. Recently Kouzaki’s Suita is starting to
receive popularity long after this quarry was closed. It suit modern hard steel with
the stronger cutting strenght. Suita has the strongest cutting strength of all stratum.
→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto”
→ Also see “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”: “鳴滝 or 鳴瀧 = Narutaki”

= Kyōto Prefecture,
= Kyōto ichi = Kyoto city
→ Also see “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”: “愛宕 = Atago, 愛宕山 = Atagoyama”,
“日照山 = Hideriyama”, “Kameoka”, “水木原 = Mizukihara”, “中山 = Nakayama”,
“鳴滝 or 鳴瀧 = Narutaki”, “大平 = Ohira”, “奥殿 = Okudo”, “奥ノ門 = Okunomon”,
“大内 = Oochi/Ōuchi/Oh-uchi”, “大突 = Ozuku / Ohzuku”, “新田 = Shinden”,
“菖蒲, 菖蒲谷 = Shobu, Shoubudani”, “梅ヶ畑 = Umegahata”,
“山城 / 山城國 / 山城国 = Yamashiro”
→ Also see “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”: “Tamba/Tanba Province”
→ Also see Japanese Natural Stones, Kanji & Information: “Maruka”


前森砥 (Updated ’17, April)
= Maemori to = Maemori stone
= 中砥石 = nakato = medium grit stone
産地 (production area): 山形県最上郡最上町(旧東小国村)
= Yamagata prefecture, Mogami district, Mogami town
(Kyūtō Oguni-mura, former Oguni village)
凝灰岩 ; 緑色・塊状・緻密 = Tuffstone; green · massive · dense
Maemori to map 1a

真名子石 (Manago; ishi) (Updated ’17, April)
= Manago stone
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone; Contains sandstone and sandstone slate
青色粘板岩・塊状・緻密 = Blue slate / massive / dense;
産地 (production area): 栃木県上津賀郡西方村真名子
= Tochigi Prefecture (upper), Tsuga district, Nishikata village, Manago
Manago map 1a.png

= Mesuka to
→ See “下島石 = Shimojima”

= Midō ishi = Midō stone
=中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit whetstone
産地 (production area): 岩手県岩手郡岩手町 ( Iwate Prefecture, Iwate district, Iwate town)
輝石安山岩, 角閃石安山岩 (= Pyroxene andesite, Amphibole andesite)
Midō ishi, Iwate map.png

三原砥 (Updated ’17, Mai)
= Mihara to = Mihara stone
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone,
Quartz rough rock stone in which iron oxide reddish brown spots
are dyed in rocks in vertical and horizontal directions
産地 (production area): 島根県邑智郡川本町丸山
= Shimane prefecture, Ōchi district, Kawamoto town,Maruyama
Mihara map 1a

Mikawa nagura (Updated ’17, Mai)
純三河白名倉砥 = Jun (Jyun) Mikawa Shiro nagura-to
= Pure/Authentic Mikawa white Nagura (whet)stone
Mikawa map 1a.png
→ Also see Japanese Natural Stones, Kanji & Information, chapter: “Naori/Stratum/Layer/Type” > “名倉 = Nagura”

In the same neighbourhood, 三河白, Mikawa Shiro (Mikawa white) is found,
which is a white, compact, tuff stone, used for polishing/finishing
(合砥, 白色・緻密・凝灰岩), the 1 m thick Mikawa Shiro layer is formed
between the bulk of “egg yolk coloured” tuff stone (卵黄色塊状凝灰岩)
産地 (production area): 愛知県南設楽郡鳳来町砥沢
= Aichi prefecture, Minamishitara district, Hōrai city, Tozawa
→ Also see “名倉砥石 = Nagura toishi”

水上砥 (Updated ’17, Mai)
= Minakami to, 中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone,
Quartz rough surface rock (石英粗面岩質の岩石)
産地 (production area): 兵庫県城崎郡日高町水上
= Hyōgo prefecture, Kinosaki district, Hidaka town, Minakami
Minakami to map 1a.png

= Mino Numata whetstone
Mino Numata map 1a.png

Mitani / Miya (Updated ’17, April), a nameless stone quarried at Mitani / Miya 三谷;
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone; 粘板岩, nenbangan = slate;
青黒色 (青砥), ao kokushoku (Aoto) = Blue Black (blue)
産地 (production area): 栃木県芳賀郡物部村三谷
= Tochigi prefecture, Haga district, Monobe village, Mitani / Miya
Mitani : Miya map 1a.png
→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto”

= Miyagawa
→ See “下島石 = Shimojima”

= Monzen, a natural sharpening stone around 1K
Monzen 2 Monzen kopie 2 天然門前砥 = Ten’nen (Tennen) Monzen To(ishi)
= Natural “Monzen” whetstone
?次持選 = ?Ji ji-sen = ? choice selection
田中精撰 = Tanaka seisen = Senior Tanaka
本山門前砥 = Honzan Monzen To(ishi)
丹波國特撰 = Tanba kuni = Tanba (Tamba) district


→ Also see Japanese Natural Stones, Kanji & Information, chapter: “Naori/Stratum/Layer/Type” > “名倉 = Nagura”
→ Also see “Mikawa nagura”
→ Also see “名倉砥石 = Nagura toishi”

名倉砥石 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Nagura toishi = Nagura whetstone
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, tuff stone (凝灰岩),
ash yellow – light yellow (灰黄色・淡黄色)
産地 (production area): 愛知県北設楽郡設楽町
= Aichi prefecture, Kitashitara district, Shitara city
Nagura toishi map 1a1.png
→ Also see “Mikawa nagura”

夏屋砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Natsuya to
岩手県産 = produced in Iwate Prefecture

A limited partnership 遠藤砥石店 (“Endō toishi-ten”, “Endo whetstone store”)
had a sales contract with a manufacturing company in Kyoto from April, 1957,
these stones were sold to the whole country as “Asahi tiger brand, Natsuya to”.
Natsuya 1a 2 Natsuya 1b
朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi (Asahi Tiger brand, (morning) Sun​ Tiger brand)
なつや砥 = Natsuya to = Natsuya stone
^^マ特撰 = Yamada (?) Tokusen = Yamada (?) special selected
Natsuya 1b this label is the same as the following label
(from another stone but more clear)
Asahi tora? Matsunaga Co “Sun Tiger Brand” “The Matsunaga Co. LTD.”

Higashi Yama to 1a 2 東山虎砥 = Higashi Yama Tora to
= Higashiyama Tiger stone; this also is a Natsuya stone (Iwate Prefecture)

→ Also see “朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi”

沼田砥 (虎砥)(Update ’17, April)
= Numata-to (Tora to) = Numata whetstone (“Tiger stone”)
砥沢砥 = Tozawa stone (沼田砥 (Numata-to) & 砥沢砥 (Tozawa stone)
are the same stones, but mined on a different mining site (not far from each other)

= 中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone (around 1K, maybe till 2K);
珪長石, keichōseki = Felsic stone;
産地 (production area): 群馬県甘楽郡南牧村砥沢
= Gunma prefecture, Kanra district, Nanmoku village, Tozawa
Numata-to map 1a.png
This stone also is called 虎砥 (the striped ones), which also is another word
for the red striped Amakusa.

Numato-to 1a Numato-to 2a Numato-to 3a
丘野 (??) =  Okano = Hillside (??)
^利 = Yama-ri (?)
登録商標 = Tōroku shōhyō = Registered trademark
本山元祖沼田砥 (Honzan ganzo Numata to); 本山 = Motoyama / Honyama / Honzan
= (head) temple; 元祖 = ganzo = originator; pioneer; 沼田砥 = Numata to;
→  = the original temple of Numata stone (???)
持産 = ji-san = Procurement
一手販売丸澤精拱 = Ittehanbai maruzawa sei (?) = One-selling sale Maruzawa Seiji (?)
Since 祖.gif is the old kanji for 祖 (in: 本山元(祖.gif = 祖)沼田砥), I believe these stones are
from < 1946.

The same center figure is also found on this label:
Numato, Ao ginsei to 青銀星砥, Ao ginsei to = Blue silver star stone
群馬県富岡市 丸澤砥石部出 = Gunmakentomiokashi maruzawa toishi-bu-de
= From Maruzawa (?, not sure) Whetstone Department, Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture

Apparently there exists ancient (from 1577) selling & buying documents of these stones.
The Numata-to (the striped type) was mined (by an open pit) in the Edo period (江戸時代;
1603-1868). In the Meiji era (明治時代; 1868-1912), a new stone quarry was found nearby
(I believe at 今砥 (Imado)). It seems that the 虎砥 (Tora to, Tiger striped stone) was taken
from the upper layer until 1942-43. After this, a complete different gray/whitish
grindstone was discovered at the lower layers. Since this type of grinding stone was
similar to the Numata-to, it was mined and sold as Numata-to until around 1975.

So, different mines quarried different stones, striped or not, all called “Numata-to”


沼田砥 , Numata-to has different varieties:
青銀星 (Ao Ginsei, “Blue Star”), 虎砥 (Tora to = striped “Tiger-stone”),
御蔵砥 (ごぞうと = “go zō to”), ひょうたん (Hyōtan), 上野砥 (Ueno to), 今砥 (Ima to)

The typical 上野砥 (Ueno to) is found nearby Numata-to
→ Also see 上野砥 (Ueno to)

By the way, ひょうたん (Hyōtan) = Gourd, as in gourd fruit, a symbol which is clearly represented on the labels (where 本山元祖沼田砥 is written)
瓢箪マーク(Gourd mark) = Numata-to. The “Gourd” trademark belongs to the Asakawa family (浅川家) of Yamamoto (山元)



Here is a label with references of Tozawa (砥沢), also a picture of a tiger:
Numata-to? Tozawa 1a.jpeg Numata-to? Tozawa 2a Numata-to? Tozawa 3a
(Read R>L, up>down)
登録商標 = Tōroku shōhyō = Registered trademark
本山乕砥 = Honyama tora (乕) to = “head temple” tiger stone
= Ueno (上野) domestic products (国産) Misawa?(三澤) careful selection (seisen, 精撰)
Numata-to? Tozawa 1a kopie
Numata-to? Tozawa 2a kopie
Numata-to? Tozawa 3a kopie
採掘元 = Saikutsu moto = mining source; 群馬県砥沢郵便局区内砥沢
=  Gunma ken Tozawa yūbinkyoku kunai Tozawa
= Gunma prefecture, Tozawa Post Office District (?) Tozawa

→ Also see “Arato” + “Unknown grit” (or “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”):
“天草 = Amakusa”


大泉砥 (Update ’17, April)
= Oizumi-to = Oizumi whetstone
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, 粘板岩 (nenbangan) = slate
Black ones are harder then blue ones;
産地 (production area): 茨城県西茨城郡岩瀬町大泉
= Ibaraki prefecture, Nishiibaraki district, Iwase town, Ōizumi
Oizumi-to map 1c
Sukugawa to (Aoto) sometimes also is called “Oizumi-to”
→ Also see “助川砥 (青砥) = Sukugawa to (Aoto)”
→ Also see”青砥 = Aoto”

大葛砥 (Updated ’17, April)
= Ōkuzo to
中砥石、土木用 = Medium whetstone for civil engineering
= Green tuff stone (= a type of rock made of volcanic ash)
(Silicated tuff rock has columnar joints)
産地 (production area) = 秋田県北秋田郡比内町長部
= Akita prefecture, Kitaakita district, Hinai town, Osabe
Ōkuzo to map 1a1.png

大葛石 (Updated ’17, April)
= Ōkuzo ishi
中砥石、土木用 = Medium whetstone for civil engineering
= Green tuff stone (= a type of rock made of volcanic ash)
(Silicated tuff rock has columnar joints)
産地 (production area) = 秋田県鹿角郡尾去沢町狐平
Ōkuzo ishi map 1a.png

尾崎 (Update ’17, April)
= Ozaki, a whetstone mine in Tamba, Kyoto prefecture,
in the neighbourhood of “Shinden” & “Ohira”

Also called “Sororo Ozaki”
   Kyoto Narutaki area map.png

→ Also see “Tamba/Tanba Province”


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

志戸前砥 (Update ’17, April)
= Shitomae-to = Shitomae stone
= 中砥石 = nakato = medium grit stone
輝石安山岩, 角閃石安山岩 (Pyroxene andesite, Amphibole andesite)
産地 (production area): 岩手県岩手郡雫石町志戸前
= Iwate Prefecture, Iwate district, Shizukuishi town, Shitomae
Shido mae to 1a 雫石持産 = Shizukuishi holding
志戸前砥 = Shitomae-to = Shitomae stone
岩手県雫石町志戸前鉱山 = Iwate Prefecture, Shizukuishi town,
Shitomae mine (鉱山 = Kōzan = mine)
四ツ家鉱業所 = Yotsuya kōgyō-sho = Yotsuya Mining Plant

Shitomae map 1a.png

下島石 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Shimojima

Also called:
宮川砥 = Miyagawa to
目透砥 = Mesuka to

This blue-black dense stone (青黒色・緻密) is made of
slate with siliceous stone (珪石と互層する粘板岩)

 産地 (production area), famous for production of
中砥石 (nakato, medium grit stone):
= Kyōto prefecture, Sōraku district, Wazuka town, Shimojima
= Kyōto prefecture, Kameoka city, Miyazaki town, Miyagawa
= Kyōto prefecture, Kameoka city, Miyazaki town, Kozaki
= Kyōto prefecture, Kameoka city, Miyazaki town, Inokura
Inokura Kozaki Miyagawa map 1a1

Shimojima map 1a.png

It is also a Tamba product (丹波産, 京都, Tamba product, Kyoto)
Miyagawa 1a 2
丹波亀岡産 = Tamba Kameoka product (丹波, Tamba, 亀岡, Kameoka)
中仕上げ (Chū shiage, medium finish stone)
This stone (天然砥石, Tennen Toishi, natural whetstone) is said to be a
宮川青砥 (Miyagawa Aoto)

助川砥 (青砥)    or   助川青砥  (Update ’17, April)
= Sukugawa Aoto  = Sukugawa stone (Aoto)
Sukugawa : Shinagawa 1a1 元山, Motoyama = Origin mountain
常陸青砥製所, Hitachi Aoto-sei-sho = Hitachi Aoto Factory/Plant/Mfg. Co., Ltd.;
日立市成沢町 = Hitachi city, Narusawa town;
助川青砥 = Sukegawa Aoto
品質保証付, hinshitsu hoshō-tsuk = with quality guarantee

Sukegawa Aotosometimes is also known as 大泉砥 (Oizumi to),
although it is another stone

It seems to be a bit coarser then “Tamba Aoto”
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, 粘板岩 (nenbangan) = Slate
Black coloured stones are harder then the blue ones;
産地 (production area): 茨城県日立市諏訪
= Ibaraki prefecture, Hitachi city, Suwa
and 日立市成沢町 = Hitachi city, Narusawa town
Sukugawa to map 1c
→ Also see “大泉砥 = Oizumi to”
→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto”
→ Also see “http://kiyond.blogspot.be/2014/11/blog-post_17.html


蓼野砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Tadeno to = Tadeno stone
中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, a not hard quartz rough rock stone,
which consists mainly of fine grained quartz and feldspar. Iron oxide infiltrates
with red-brown stripes along the rhetorical.
産地 (production area): 島根県鹿足郡六日市町蓼野
= Shimane Prefecture, Kanoashi District, Yoshika, Tadeno
Tadeno map 1a

= Tajima-to = Tajima whetstone, a medium grit stone
Tajima map 1a.png

滝の原砥 (Update ’17, April)
= Takinohara to = Takinohara stone
中砥石, nakato = medium grit whetstone ;
quartz rough surface rock (石英粗面岩) with  feldspathic spots (長石の斑点がある)
産地 (production area): 福島県南会津郡田島町
= Fukushima prefecture, Minamiaidzu district, Tajima town
Takinohara to map 1e Takinohara to map 1d Takinohara to map 1a

Tamba/Tanba Province

Tanba/Tamba Province (丹波国 or 丹波國 Tanba no kuni) was an old province of Japan.
The ambit of its borders encompassed both the central part of modern Kyoto Prefecture
and the east-central part of Hyōgo Prefecture. The ancient provincial capital is believed
to be in the area of modern Kameoka. (f) Shinden, Ohira,… are situated in this area.

Tanba no kuni 丹波國.jpg
登録商標 = Tōroku shōhyō = Registered trademark
丹波國産出 = Tanba kuni sanshutsu = Tamba province production
本山青砥 = Honyama Aoto = Authentic Aoto
山マ特撰 = Yamada (?) Tokusen = Yamada (?) special selected
This label is an Asahi tora (朝日虎, Asahi Tiger, (morning) Sun​ Tiger) product
(→ Also see “朝日虎印 = Asahi tora jirushi”)

There is also “Tamba” (presently), which is an area, part of the prefecture Kyoto.
In the “Tamba” region, west of “Kyoto City” there are a handful of remaining active modern mines producing traditional awasedo toishi, also to the north/east of Kyoto
near Lake Biwa and one or two small operations in the Yamashiro area.

kyoto-pref-city tamba-b
Kyoto Prefecture.png
The blue area is then Kyoto prefecture 京都府, red is Kyoto city 京都市,
the region between green lines is the Tamba area:tamba-1-area-of-kyoto-prefecture

The city Tanba lays outside the Tamba area

Either way, the Shinden, Ohira, Ozaki,… are postioned in the Tanba & Tamba area
(Narutaki, Shoubudani, Nakayama, Takayama,… are positioned in the Kyoto City area)Kyoto mountains, mines.png

= 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.

天狗砥 (Update ’17, April)
= Tengu-do, a medium coarse stone

There is a new variant:
Tengu-do 2b自然作 = Shizen-saku = natural work
天然砥石 = ten’nen (tennen) toishi = natural whetstone
特選刃物用 = tokusen hamono-yō = for special cutlery
優良石 = Yūryō ishi = excellent stone
天狗砥 = Tengu to
中砥 · 仕上砥蒹用 = Nakato · shiageto = Medium to finish sharpening usage

And an old variant:
Tengu-do 1a1 Tengu-do 1a2 (box) 天狗印 = Tengu shirushi = Tengu mark
正本山青砥 = Shōhonyama Aoto = True original mountain Aoto
一丁撰 = Itchō sen = one piece
This Aoto is said to be a white Aoto (not the new variant)

→ Also see “青砥 = Aoto”

寺中砥 (Update ’17, Mai)
= Tera nakato = “Temple” medium grit stone,
= 中砥石 (nakato) = medium grit stone, made of Tuff stone (凝灰岩)
産地 (production area): 福井県鯖江市 = Fukui prefecture, Sabae city
Tera nakato map 1a.png

虎砥 (Update ’17, April)
= Tora – to = “Tiger” – stone, = another word for (red) striped “Amakusa”,
also another word for the striped “沼田砥 = Numata-to”
→ Also see “Arato” + “Unknown grit” (or “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”):
“天草 = Amakusa”
→ Also see “沼田砥 = Numata-to”

= Tsushima
= Tsushima kuro nagura to = Tsushima Black nagura stone
Quarried on Tsushima island, west of Nagasaki. This medium grit whetstone
produces slurry which breaks down very finely. Tsushima is mined
from the mountain & underwater (in the ocean).
Tsushima map 1a
Tsushima map 1b.png


上野砥 (Update ’17, April, Mai)
= Ueno-to = Ueno whetstone
= 中砥石 = nakato = medium grit natural sharpening stone,
Grade: Medium – Fine (800-2000)
(角閃石安山岩 = Amphibole Andesite)
Ueno 2.jpg Ueno.jpg
産地 (production area): 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture), 甘楽郡 (Kanra district),
下仁田村 (Shimonita village), 中小坂 (Nakaosaka)
Ueno to map 1aUeno to map 1b
It is close to Numata!

→ Also see “沼田砥 (虎砥) Numata-to”

⇐ Previous chapter: “Arato” + “Unknown grit”
⇒ Next chapter: “Shiage toishi” → “Awasedo”


(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://straightrazorplace.com/hones/82246-maruichi-question.html
(k): http://straightrazorplace.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 “Nakato” → “Shiage toishi”

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

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