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Re: Tajima and Atago natural stones

Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:54 am


Just a thought. If you are wanting to try naturals for the first time, here is a slightly different approach that might be relevant.

I wanted to try a Natural, to see what the sharpening experience was like and to see what a natural edge felt like.
Given this, I chose to get a natural finishing stone first as I figured a stone that gave the final edge would have more influence on the feel of the edge than a mid grit. I know that is only true to a point, that you can purposely not grind out all the attributes of the previous stone, and to good effect too, but....

I ended up with a Meara.
Its a fairly hard minimal mud type splash and go natural.
The synthetic finishing stones I had at the time included the Rika 5K ( leave an edge more like a 3K if you don't work the mud ), King 6K, and Arashiyama 6K.

The Meara gave an edge that in use seems to fit in range of what I already had. It has a little more refinement than the Rika, but maybe not as much as the King or Arashiyama 6K stones.

It also felt to give max performance easily. The Rika for example will give a pretty good edge, but if you want its best, you have to learn its secrets. It took me a number of sessions to get the best edge I've gotten from it. The Meara on the other hand always gives its best edge.

That said, one thing I did do was grind of a chunk of it to use as a slurry stone. This changed the character of the edge it gives, but its more of a different edge as opposed to a better edge.

Anyways, good luck on your quest :)

Re: Tajima and Atago natural stones

Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:06 pm

" I've read you say Aotos are a category on their own, can you explain it?."

Well classically, most Japanese Naturals are classified as either coarse (arato), medium (nakado) or fine (awasedo). For some reason aoto are just considered a separate category of their own, even though they most commonly overlap the nakado group of stones. I'm not quite certain what the historical precedent is for this, but the sizes for aoto are different than for awasedo for instance. Without going into details, it is separate enough that an aoto 'person' could be talking to another aoto 'person' in the same room as an awasedo 'person' regarding stone sizes and they wouldn't understand each other. Almost like one person talking Metric and another person talking English measures. Both systems for aoto and awasedo predate modern measuring systems. And some stones, like Meara and Igarashi, just come in one size from their respective mines.

Branwell, at some point in the near future, I will cut up a Meara for the EP. This should be a nice stone for the EP. When I do so, I'll make some Nagura stones too. So if anyone is interested in the Meara on the EP or a Meara slurry stone (tomonagura), just let me know.

Really an excellent discussion! Really enjoying the posts on this thread!


Re: Tajima and Atago natural stones

Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:25 pm

No worries Ken. I have a Dremel tool, a chisel, and a hammer. I can make short work of those pesky misshapen Japanese Naturals :lol:

Speaking of mines, one thing I've been doing a little of recently is getting on Google Earth ( Google Maps works too ) and taking a look at where some of these mines are. Pretty cool to see the area from satellite and see peoples pictures as well. Hope to go in person one day. I'd love to find a mine, a little mine that has only been mind by one family for generations. Can you imagine what it would feel like. Awesome.

Re: Tajima and Atago natural stones

Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:56 pm

You're scaring me :)

I LOVE Google Earth! Unfortunately, you are probably a few generations too late. That whole area is pretty closely kept track of. Even on the surface above the mines, there are very expensive mushrooms growing there - think truffle type pricing, so it is challenging to just poke around without getting arrested.

Most of the mines are closed and boarded up and unsafe to go in at this point - and tapped out. I don't think people appreciate just how finite an amount of Japanese naturals are still around.

I'm hoping to make it there on my next trip to Japan. There's a shrine atop one of the mountains I'd like to visit too. I have a scroll from them that is supposed to protect a home or business from fire. I think it works too, ever since a neighbor's house burnt down and mine didn't catch fire. And my wife left the gas stove on unlit for 6 hours and nothing bad happened. It's enough to make one respect traditions.

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