Chapter 1.
White Go Stones

Miraculous Clamshell Go Stones - Clamshell Go Stones Produced in Hyuga -

(1) Exceptional Clamshells Originating from Okuragahama Beach

Hyuga clamshell Go stones are white Go stones made from clamshells collected at Okuragahama Beach in Hyuga City, which faces the Pacific Ocean in the northern part of Miyazaki Prefecture. Okuragahama Beach is a sandy beach that stretches about 4 kilometers from north to south, and it is only here in Japan that you will find these “miraculous clamshells”. Although Hyuga clamshells are a species of clam called Chousen Hamaguri that inhabits areas all over Japan, what makes these clamshells overwhelmingly different from the other clamshells are the Hyuga clamshells’ size, thickness, whiteness, and hardness. The diameter of a normal clamshell is about 5 to 9 cm, but the diameter of a clamshell from Hyuga, which is used to make Go stones, is about 10 cm to 15 cm. If you imagine the shell being like the human mouth, there is a particularly plump and thick part at the end of the shell which is like the lips, and only one white Go stone can be taken from here. The thickness of the clamshell is also a feature not found in clamshells in other regions. Hyuga’s special clamshells are also known as “swabte-gai”. In some areas of Miyazaki and Kagoshima, in the local dialect, human lips are called “suba”, and because the lips are “butoi” (thick), it has come to be called the “swabte” clamshell. With regards to the color, typically clamshells are brown or lilac, but most of the clamshells from Hyuga are white, making it a high-quality shell suitable to make white Go stones. It is thought that the clamshells from Hyuga that were nurtured in an environment exposed to the strong waves of Okuragahama Beach throughout the years evolved by making their shells stronger, thicker, and harder in order to protect themselves. Go stones made of Hyuga clamshells are truly “miraculous clamshell Go stones”.

(2) Journey from Beach to Go Stone Production

Clamshells from Hyuga were introduced to a Go stone manufacturer in Osaka by a medicine peddler in Toyama Prefecture in the late 1800s, and it was at this time that their potential to be used to make white Go stones was unearthed. Legend has it that back then large and white clamshells were pulled up all over the beach at Okuragahama, and the envoys from Osaka picked up clams while jumping for joy every day before sending them to Osaka. Go store vendors, who had used clamshells in Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture until then, also began to use a lot of clamshells from Hyuga for making Go stones.
Seikichi Harada “I want to turn Hyuga clamshells into Go stones in my hometown, Hyuga City.”

Mr. Harada Seikichi, who helped pick up shells in Hyuga under the lead of the envoys from Osaka and later worked at a Go stone merchant in Osaka, started making Go stones in his hometown of Hyuga in 1907. Over the decades that followed, clamshell Go stone manufacturing would grow significantly as an industry symbolic of Hyuga City. In 1917, the founder of Kuroki Goishiten, Mr, Kuroki Sojiro, began the manufacturing of Go stones.

Hyuga clamshell Go stones were made by attaching the white Go stone to a handmade tool called a kaibo (a special stick for the shell) and pressing it against the edge of the grindstone to form the curved surface of the Go stones. Each set of about 180 white Go stones would be carefully given the finishing touches by having the craftsmen check the thickness both visually and with their hands. Hyuga’s specialty clamshell Go stones are truly unique because they are made using artisan craftsmanship and manufacturing methods that invest great time and effort into making a fantastic product.

(3) Miraculous Go Stones Become Legendary Go Stones

The clamshells produced in Hyuga live for around 14 to 15 years before they reach the end of their lifespan, and lie in wait, untouched in the sand of Okuragahama Beach in the form of subfossils for hundreds or thousands of years. While there are no records of the number of clamshells collected from the late 1800s to the 1970s, there is no doubt that a significant amount of clamshells lay like buried treasure under the sand dating back thousands of years. Since Mr. Harada started making Go stones in Hyuga City, more than 10 Go stone manufacturers became established in Hyuga City. Each company continued to collect the clamshells that rested on the surface of the beach or by digging up the sand. As a result, the clamshells in Hyuga used to produce Go stones were almost exhausted in the 1970s.

“No two Go stones are ever the same”

Now, 50 years after the clamshells from Hyuga could no longer be collected, the miraculous Go stones made from Hyuga clamshells became called “legendary Go stones”.
Chapter 2.White Go Stones
Shin Hamaguri Go Stones - Mexican Clamshell Go Stones -

Go Story

Chapter 1. White Go Stones
Miraculous Clamshell Go Stones - Clamshell Go Stones Produced in Hyuga -
Chapter 2. White Go Stones
Shin Hamaguri Go Stones - Mexican Clamshell Go Stones -
Chapter 3. Black Go Stones
Supreme Black Stones - Nachiguro-ishi from Kumano City, Mie Prefecture -
Chapter 4. History of Kuroki Goishiten
Kuroki Goishiten’s Mission
Chapter 5. History of Go
A Guide for the Lives of Great Men