Ogatsu slate is known as a material for carving inkstones, called suzuri in Japanese. Ogatsu Suzuri Association was once the biggest producer of inkstone in Japan. After its usage declined, they began to produce one-of-a-kind tableware with their traditional techniques.
Ogatsu slate's silky black color makes for striking tableware which also has excellent hot and cold retention properties, keeping food fresher and tastier for far longer than typical porcelain plates.
While the production of high-quality Ogatsu stone and Ogatsu suzuri is believed to date back 600 years, written documents of these operations only appear in the Edo period. These recount how regional lord Masamune Date appointed two regional Ogatsu crafters to work exclusively for his clan due to their skillful workmanship. Consequentially, the town of Ogatsu became renowned for its sophisticated, refined and high quality suzuri. Later, during the Meiji period, the production of Ogatsu stone intensified and became one of Japan’s major exports.
Due to it’s location on Japan’s north-eastern coast, the town of Ogatsu as well as its Ogatsu stone production and extraction sites were devastated by the Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11th 2011. However, thanks to years of tireless communal efforts to keep the local Ogatsu tradition and craft alive, the Ogatsu industry has been able to gradually work on bringing their production levels back up to pre-tsunami levels.