07-25-2014, 08:18 AM
Okay - Andrey posts so many photos that I thought I should contribute one. This is of a rare Aizu, one of my fav stones and one you don't hear talked of much, though there are a few blog entries out there where people extoll their virtues. Basically, it's a hard medium stone, at the finer end of medium, and known for being fast and good with all sorts of steels, and great at getting rid of scratch marks. Really, I think for kitchen knives this is as fine as you need to - or even should - go, as it goes up to around 5k. They're described as 2k-5k, but this one is probably 4k-5k. Here it is:
I actually have 3 right now and they're all very similar, but with slightly different speeds and fineness. This is probably the finest of the 3 but it's currently SPF. The others are great too, but this one's probably the most eye-catching. I chose to sell it because it's fineness somewhat starts to overlap with other stones I have, such as Tsushima nagura, Asano Tenjo nagura, and Chu nagura, and of course I have the 2 others, including 1 that looks very similar to this one.
07-25-2014, 09:23 AM
This looks quite similar to Ikarashi! Interesting stone.
07-25-2014, 09:51 AM
Yep. A bit finer and harder and faster than Ikarashi, but they were mined not far from where Ikarashi were so not a big surprise.
Originally Posted by skiajl6297
Based on trying 3 stones and research, I think Aizu came in 2 general types. First, like this one, a bit bluer with patterns and those white splotches all over. And, second, whiter than the others and with finer dots, and the dots are usually greenish (but JNS recently stocked one I hadn't seen before, with fine brownish dots, the first Aizu there in ages). Of my 3 Aizu, 2 are of the bluer variety and a little finer than the other whiter one I have, so this makes me wonder if there's a generalisation to make.
Ikarashi are of course also blue, especially when a bit wet like this Aizu was. And there's also another similar stone, the Kaisei, also mined in northern Honshu, which is blue and was used a lot in sword polishing from what I know. (... And there might still even be others. I have a 4th type, and I don't know it's origin, but it's a little different from the other 3 which makes me think it's from a completely different source.)
At any rate, these stones are also sometimes called 'aoto' because, as I like to repeat, 'ao' means blue and 'to' stone, and these do in fact fit the bill. Typical Tamba aoto are different shades of grey, and maybe even reddish, but never blue, so I don't know why they would come to be called aoto. My wild guess/theory is that stones like Aizu, Kaisei and Ikarashi are the original aoto and called that first, and then the name began to be applied to other stones around Japan like the Tamba which performed a similar role for sharpeners, even if they weren't actually blue. And now outside of Japan, of course, we even hear talk of 'red' and 'green' aoto because, again, they have a similar coarseness so it's a handy name, though probably not accurate.
07-25-2014, 12:56 PM
07-25-2014, 01:00 PM
07-25-2014, 02:13 PM
Originally Posted by Andrey V
Could be good if you want a harder stone, but Mr Aframes (I forget his name) I think let slip and called it a 'hone' at some point which could be revealing about how he imagines it's best used.
Originally Posted by CoqaVin
07-26-2014, 03:20 PM
It's a very hard stone, suitable for razor or tools. I would't recommend it for the kitchen knife. Takashima is normally quite soft, similar to Hakka. This is not the case. Takeshi has a good selection of Shobu for now. Check it, they are very interesting finishers.
Originally Posted by CoqaVin
08-05-2014, 06:32 AM
This do not look like any Aizu i have seen before
It looks like however many Ikarashis i have seen
I am 95 % it is not Aizu
Aizu is very compact stone without those white specs like on that one
Originally Posted by Asteger
08-05-2014, 03:27 PM
I know what you mean. I've had 2 Ikarashi, one from JNS and another identical one, for comparison. I've also had 3 Aizu for comparison; 1 of them has the finer dots on it like you describe, but it is coarser than the one in the photo above and another similar one I have, and of course the Ikarashi are coarser than any of the 3 Aizu, so I don't doubt they're Aizu stones. All 3 of them also came from the same source.
Originally Posted by maxim
I also have another 'mystery' stone of unknown origin which looks similar to the one in the photo above with the white dots, but which is less hard and fine and behaves like an Ikarashi, and so my guess is it is an Ikarashi. (It also has some 'bubbles' in it.) Looks the same as my 2 Aizu of this type, but quite a different stone. On the other hand, maybe it's worth remembering that Ikarashi and Aizu were both mined near each other on the Niigata/Fukushima border.
Some people might have encounted the blog of the guitar maker Tanaka Kiyoto, who must be one of the worlds great collectors, is constantly writing about stones, and who seems to own several of every stone and know everything too. If an origin is unknown, he says this too. However, as example, he tries out an Aizu (below) which is the same type as the one in my photo and the other similar one I have; ie. they look this way when drier and a bit different from the type with the finer dots. In my photo above the stone was wet still, so bluer and the dots more pronounced. Tanaka's photo:
At any rate ... Aizu/Ikarashi, they're different but all nice to have.
08-05-2014, 03:45 PM
... And another J-blogger's (small) photo of 3 Aizu. I'm surprised by the one on the right, but have seen that colour before too.