Washi and Whetstones

Best place to find a whetstone aka Tokyo Art Adventures w/Mia O – Mokuhanga Artist!

Six of us, all members of Art Byte Critique, set out from our respective homes around the Tokyo Metro area and converged upon the 360+ year old, Ozu Washi paper store in the Nihonbashi area.

We each had our reasons for making this errand; Michelle wanted washi sheets for her contemporary nihonga painting idea. Lori was on a quest to find just the right texture, color, and pattern for her handmade bee-themed mamebon, bean-sized books. Patty, Louise, & Mia were each looking for paper for their printmaking projects and I was there out of curiosity.

Ozu Washi fits the widest range of washi paper enthusiasts. They inform the tourists, yet showcase their centuries of consistently top quality paper in various forms throughout the other floors with a large room set up as a museum. Lovely displays of amazing art pieces utilizing washi, cones of paper yarns, videos, and classes all in one place!

We each walked out with beautiful sheets of washi that handled each of our widely varying needs. My purchase was a package of five tissue paper thin, buttery soft, all white sheets to create a backdrop for photographing my artwork.

After a delicious lunch of Soba noodles at Takashimaya we made our way to Morihei Knife & Whetstone Shop in the Asakusa-bashi area.

Oguro Sensei brought out his iPad to show us additional information regarding his business; comfortable using modern technology. Some of his offerings are listed on his website, yet many, many more are available in his shop.

Morihei has been around since 1933 and is dedicated to the absolute highest quality whetstones for mokuhanga carving chisels, chyoukin metal etching tools, nigiri sheers, sushi knives, and swords. The variety in each stone was astounding, the color, the grit, the size, all had a unique purpose. Oguro Sensei said many sushi chefs come to Japan to purchase the excellent knives but then need to return to buy a whetstone from him to keep those knives sharp.

Mia & Patty receiving advice and discussing their multitude of choices!

TIP for choosing a good whetstone:

Place a drop of water on the stone; a slowly sinking drop is better and the water stays around to provide lubricant for the item one is sharpening.

If the water drop sinks too quickly, it is a poor quality stone.

Both Patty and Mia needed to purchase a stone for their mokuhanga tools that day and this is what our group, Art Byte Critique, is about, supporting each other so we can each successfully move forward with our own work.

This large whetstone is used to sharpen one’s sword!

Mia O is a Selected Artist at the International Mokuhanga Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Currently her work can be seen at the UH Manoa Art Building Main Gallery. Mia was among a handful of printmakers to be selected for acquisition awards by the Hawaii State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, Arts in Public Places!!

Mia will be showing additional work available for purchase in the Chinatown Artists Lofts First Friday Open Studios event room 203 – Ark of the Unicorns Gallery Space

Morihei – Knife & Whetstone Shop

111-0053 JAPAN

Taito-Ku, Tokyo

1-28-6 Asakusa-bashi

Approx 2 min walk from either the JR Asakusa-bashi Stn or the Asakusa-bashi Subway Stn

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