Amehata Suzuri no Sato Kenshoan

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The village of Amehata is known throughout Japan as one of the best sources of inkstones (suzuri), a slate-based object used in traditional Japanese calligraphy to produce ink. Amehata Suzuri no Sato Kenshoan combines a museum, atelier, shop, and riverside terrace cafe, telling the story of Amehata suzuri through a fascinating collection of exhibits while demonstrating that this is a craft still very much alive in the twenty-first century.

Historic artifacts and English-language explanatory materials detail how, for centuries, superior-quality slate taken from the bed of the adjacent Amehata River has been transformed by local artisans into inkstones of sometimes stunningly ornate design. A five-minute video explains the process without need of narration, overcoming any language barriers. Dependent on timing, you may be lucky enough to see a suzuri maker at work in the Kenshoan’s on-site atelier.

Other exhibits show how inkstones are used by calligraphers, including some masterpieces of brushwork. Suzuri are unique among a calligrapher’s materials in that they are a tool that truly lasts a lifetime, and for the people of Amehata they were once a lifelong companion for all: everyone in the village would own one.

The Kenshoan is notable for its harmonious mix of period European and traditional Japanese interior architecture. Certain doorframes have been repurposed from a traditional kominka house destroyed in a 2019 typhoon, while the river-and-mountain views from the Kenshoan’s well-placed windows are worthy of an oil painting.


Venue Address

409-2734 709-1 Amehata, Hayakawa-cho, Minamikoma-gun

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