Mr. Sugai loves the Kitayama and Mizuyama stones, because it has natural stone powder and benefits without the risks. (Although he uses natural stones too) This stone came back to us because it cracked on it's way to the customer. So Mr. Sugai decided to use it, since it was a waste to just throw it away. Once he started to use it, he discovered that it was one of the best sharpening stones he has ever used. It is currently one of Mr. Sugai's favorite stones.
He explained that not all sharpening stones stand equal. Although there is of course a standard quality, because these stones are technically man-made in a kiln like pottery, there is bound to be a few that are a much better quality than others. For example, the quality between stones that are baked in the middle of the kiln or the stones baked during different seasons are all going to be completely different. Therefore, you will never meet the same quality stone twice. Sad fact, but true.
Mr. Sugai's Favorites
Natural Stone - The Aoto medium stone - Mr. Sugai waited two years for a stone of this quality.
Natural Stone - Amakusa - Mr. Sugai refers to this stone as the "make up stone," used to put the lovely dark gray color on Japanese style knives. You cannot sharpen on these stones, and they are strictly for aesthetic purposes.
Mizuyama #1000 grit stones
Mr. Sugai's apprentice, Vincent/Kazu (he's half, hence the name). He has been training under Mr. Sugai for 2 and a half years, and recently met Mr. Sugai grand master in Japan.
On a side note, Vincent and I have been friends since I was fetus. LOL