Japanese Hone Vocabulary
A collection of terms associated with Japanese natural hones. Words are arranged alphabetically by their Japanese name spelled in English. In the entries below, clicking on the picture will take you to a larger, more detailed version.
- Aisasearch for term
合さ--Direct translation "Meeting." This is a layer of stone in the Honkuchi Naori?, near the middle of the seam. These stones tend to be well suited to razors, being harder and more uniform than other layers.Synonyms: Gousa
- Aishi Naorisearch for term
合石成り-Direct Translation "Meeting Stone Strata". A line of hone stone strata that extends from Yuuge, in the North of Kyoto prefecture, southwest to Tomita. Produces stones that are softer than the Honkuchi Naori?, and somewhat coarser, but relatively big and clean. The Hideriyama stones are especially famous.
- Asagisearch for term
浅黄-Very confusingly, the direct translation is "Light Yellow". Color Variant. According to "The Charm of Kyoto's Natural Hones", Asagi? hones are light blue or dark grey, and are usually very pure and hard.b
- Botan Nagurasearch for term
ボタン名倉-Direct Translation, "Peony". The roughest nagura? stone used with razors. Cuts very fast.Synonyms: Botanc
- Coppasearch for term
小端-Direct translation "Small part". An irregularly shaped stone, usually smaller in size than the regular benchstones. Often cheaply priced due to their unusual shape.e
- Enshousearch for term
煙硝-Direct translation, "Gunpowder". A stone with a heavy sulfur content, causing a blueish or blackish color, and on use it can produce some discoloration in steel, and releases a gunpowder smell.
- Gomasearch for term
ゴマ / 胡麻--Direct translation "Sesame Seeds." These are small black inclusions in the face of the hone. They can be good in a middle or low range stone, as they are hard and can add to the abrasive power, but in a finisher they can damage your very fine edge.h
- Honkuchi Naorisearch for term
本口成り-Direct Translation, "Main Opening Strata". The Honkuchi noari is a line of rock strata that runs for about 20km, from the Narutaki district of Kyoto Northwest to Oouchi mountain. The Honkuchi Naori? is the source of the hardest, finest hones in Japan. Seams include Tomae? (most numerous, synonymous with "Awasedo"), Aisa/Gousa?, Suita?, and many more (80 seams in total).k
- Kansearch for term
かん / 環巻-Direct translation "Rings, Tree rings." These are color variations in the surface of the hone that have the appearance of the rings of a tree. Very dark or heavy Kan? can be damaging to the blade.
- Karasusearch for term
カラス・烏-direct translation, "Crow/Raven". Color variant. Light colored stones with black, feathery spots (the black spots are the "raven" part--no spots, no karasu?). They come from the Aisa? seam, and tend to be very hard, smooth stones. Stones from this seam are often recommended for fine honing, as for razors.
- Kiitasearch for term
黄板-Direct translation, "yellow plate/yellow board". Color variant. Stones with a rich, yellow coloration are called "Kiita?". They have a reputation for being somewhat softer than the other well known color variant, Asagi?. Highly prized, and most commonly associated with the Nakayama mine, though not solely produced there. (Note the Spelling: two "i"s, one "t").
- Koma Nagurasearch for term
コマ名倉/細名倉(??)-Direct translation possibly "fine" but difficult to tell, as usually written in Katakana. The finest nagura?, and most expensive. Some call this "Tomonagura," but this is a historical misnomer.Synonyms: Komam
- Maruoyamasearch for term
丸尾山- Direct translation "Circle Ridge Mountain" or "Circle Tail Mountain". A "Western Thing" mine northwest of Kyoto, located in the Oouchi district at the intersection of the Honkuchi Naori? and the Aishi Naori?. Produces stones from three locations-Ashitani, which is in the Aishi Naori, and Ipponmatsu and Gobyo, which both are in the Honkuchi Naori.
- Mejiro Nagurasearch for term
- Synonyms: Mejiro
- Momijisearch for term
もみじ・紅葉-Direct Translation, "Maple, Maple Leaf". Figuration/color variant. The book "The Charm of Kyoto's Natural Hones" lists Momiji? as a color/ marking pattern particular to the Suita?, making it especially desirable. According to Youzo Tsuchihashi san, 4th generation owner of the Maruoyama? hone distributors (Totoriya) and miner, Momiji is the same color variant as Renge? (reddish spots) but the spots are considerably bigger than the very fine renge. According to Yasuyuki Bo-oku san, a 3rd generation Kyoto hone wholesaler and distributor, and member of the Kyoto Natural Hone Association, these patterns are prized for their aesthetic qualities, rather than any effect on honing.n
- Nagurasearch for term
名倉-Direct translation, "Famous Warehouse" (not related to anything specific). The best nagura? are sourced from a mountain near Mikawa town, in northern Aichi prefecture, Japan. These stones are small, soft chalky stones used to create a succession of slurry "pastes" (In Japan called "Tojiru", hone juice, or "Todoro", hone mud.). Come in a total of 12 varieties, but only 4 concern razor honing. See also "Koma?," "Botan?," "Tenjou" and "Mejiro?."
- Nakayamasearch for term
- Namazusearch for term
ナマズ、なまづ、鯰、癜. Direct translation is disputed. Namazu? is a pattern of lighter colored blotches or spots on the surface of the stone, usually very irregular in pattern and markedly lighter (yellowish pink or grey) than the rest of the stone. Namazu is usually written using the character for "Catfish," but the owner of www.toishi.jp did research into the history of the word and found that it should actually be written using the word for "Tinea versicolor," a fungal infection of the skin that causes light, discolored patches on the skin. The pronunciation, and thus the English spelling, is the same.
- Nashijisearch for term
梨地・なしじ-Direct Translation "Pear-like". Color variant. According to "The charm of Kyoto's Natural Hones", this is a distinguishing characteristic of Tomae? stones. Specifically, it says "A yellow stone with a spotted patter like the skin of a pear." However, there are MANY MANY stones labeled "Nashiji?" which are not yellow, and do not look like the skin of a pear...So this is still somewhat controversial. According to Yasuyuki Bo-oku san, a 3rd generation Kyoto hone wholesaler and distributor, and member of the Kyoto Natural Hone Association, these patterns are prized for their aesthetic qualities, rather than any effect on honing.r
- Rengesearch for term
蓮華-direct translation, "Lotus Blossom." Figuration/color variant. The book "The Charm of Kyoto's Natural Hones" lists Renge? as a color/ marking pattern particular to the Suita?, making it especially desirable. Renge are Shiro-suita (white suita) with a fine, distinct reddish/pink, sometimes brown or black, pattern. According to Yasuyuki Bo-oku san, a 3rd generation Kyoto hone wholesaler and distributor, and member of the Kyoto Natural Hone Association, these patterns are prized for their aesthetic qualities, rather than any effect on honing.s
- Susearch for term
巣-Direct Translation, "Net, (spider's) web". Su? are small holes, ranging from about 1mm to sizes invisible to the naked eye. They are the remnants of gas bubbles trapped in the stone at its formation. They are especially common in the Suita? seam (hence the name). They can hold slurry and rough particles in honing, and so caution should be used when honing very fine edge tools.
- Suitasearch for term
巣板-Direct Translation, "Webbed plate". One seam of the Hon-Kuchi Naori, the layers of rock that produce Kyoto's natural hones. Very popular, and known to be fast, fine hones. Often have su?.
- Sujisearch for term
筋--Direct translation "Tendon." Suji? are lines in the hone, usually very straight like knife cuts. There are two type, "Living" and "Dead." "Living Suji" can negatively affect the blade, usually because the lines mark points where harder minerals have accumulated in the stone. These can be felt as a "click" on the blade when honing. "Dead Suji" are safe, they do not harm the blade, either because they are in a place that is easily avoided or, when honing, the honer has objectively tested and seen no harm.
- Sujimonosearch for term
筋物--direct translation, "Tendon thing". This refers to a stone that has lots of Suji?. Usually a sign of a very cheap or unusable stone.
- Sunashisearch for term
- Tenjou Nagurasearch for term
- Synonyms: Tenjo, Tenjou
- tennnen toishisearch for term
- toishisearch for term
砥石-Whetstone, grindstone, hone and all the related ideas involved in a stone-like thing used as an abrasive.
- Tomaesearch for term
戸前-Direct Translation, "In front of the door". The most common of the Honkuchi Naori? layers (48 of the total 80 are Tomae?), and produces a large number of stones. In "The Charm of Kyoto's Natural Hones", there is a section of "Q&A" (it isn't exactly clear who is doing the asking and answering, but anyway...). In the Q&A, it goes "Q: Why are "Tomae" such good "Awasedo"? A: 1) They represent the essence/heart of natural hones. 2) "Tomae" comes from "In front of the storehouse door". 3) Rice was kept in the storehouse. 4) So if a miner reached these stones, he could keep producing them [because the seam is so large] and so he would be able to eat."y
- Yakesearch for term
焼け-やけ. Direct translation "Roast, Burnt." A patch of darker brown or golden brown color, like roasted food. Particulary dark or heavy Yake? can damage the blade (from "The Charm of Kyoto's Natural Hones.)