The Tale behind
the Go Stones of
the Go Stones of
Black Go Stones
Supreme “Black” Go Stones - Nachiguro-ishi from Kumano City, Mie Prefecture -
(1) Making Go Stones by Working Closely with Production Areas
“Nachiguro-ishi” is used to make black Go stones. The production area of Konoue district in Kumano City, Mie Prefecture, is located in a deep mountain range about 200 to 300 meters above sea level and about 20 minutes by car from the city center of Kumano City. It was here that the village, with a population of about 200 people, carried out work from collecting the Nachiguro-ishi to machining them. Nachiguro-ishi is a beautiful jet-black stone that gives off a greater and greater shine the more it is finely polished. Its thickness, hardness, and ease at which it can be machined are top class, with it being the best possible material for making black Go stones. There are many famous black stone production areas for Suzuri (inkstones) all over Japan, but Nachiguro-ishi, which is by no means inferior to these stones in terms of quality and elegance, has been commercialized not only as a material used to make black Go stones, but also as powder-molded products made of a combination of inkstone, touchstone, and Nachiguro-ishi.
With the increase in demand for clamshell Go stones in Hyuga City, the shipment volumes of Nachiguro-ishi has also increased significantly. For many years, black stones cut out in Kumano City would be shipped to Hyuga City after the rock was cut into slate sheets and hollowed out. However, since the 2000s, the number of Go stone manufacturers has decreased and the demand for Nachiguro-ishi has decreased, resulting in a shortage of torchbearers for this craft. Currently, there are only two companies that supply Nachiguro-ishi for making Go stones. From 2019 onwards, the ore cut out locally would be shipped to Kuroki Goishiten, where we now cut the Nachiguro-ishi ore into sheets and cut out the material ourselves, continuing to make black Go stones while working as a tightly-knit team and supporting one another.