Sojiro Kuroki first breathed life into Kurokigoishiten in 1917. Staying true to his founding spirit, Kazushi Kuroki picked up the baton for the next generation and shaped the philosophy that forms the cornerstone of Kurokigoishiten to this day.
“It’s down to people to actually use Go stones. They are the ones who interact with the stones. That’s why it’s essential that they are made by hand, from natural materials.” This underlying philosophy has been passed down through the generations to the present day at Kurokigoishiten.
In a modern world increasingly dominated by automation, our stones are the product of a 24-stage process that takes around three months. Each stone is handled by a master craftsman at least one. They check stones with their own eyes and engage with them, to create a finished product that will convey what the player is thinking.
We are determined to bring out the natural characteristics of clamshells here at Kurokigoishiten, focusing on practical usability and artistry as well as their shape and feel. We only let stones out the door when we are completely satisfied with them.
For as long as there is Go culture around the world, we are determined that our commitment to craftsmanship will never change.
When our customers touch our products, that’s the start of a long, close relationship. We take pride in the fact that we are always there by the customer’s side.
Our commitment to clamshell Go stones goes beyond the distinctive luster and beauty of clamshells.
We have always focused on the practical usability and artistry of clamshells, as well as their shape and feel. We are determined to give the people who use our stones an exceptional sense of quality and satisfaction. That same determination is at the heart of our Kurokigoishiten Manufacturing Program.
It may only be 4km long, but Okuraga-hama Beach is recognized as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in Japan. Located in the city of Hyuga, the home of clamshell Go stone manufacturing, if it weren’t for this particular beach, Japan’s proud clamshell Go stone manufacturing techniques might have died out by now.
Production of clamshells for Go stones has ceased everywhere apart from Hyuga. It is also the only place that has kept processing techniques alive. With production in Hyuga on the verge of dying out however, the focus of raw materials has shifted to clamshells from Mexico. Nonetheless, the city of Hyuga in Miyazaki prefecture remains the only place in Japan that is still making clamshell Go stones, including black stones.
Although there are a number of companies manufacturing clamshell Go stones in Hyuga today, we have trodden a unique path in terms of how our manufacturing methods, shapes and selection standards have evolved.
Go stones made from natural clamshells have two conflicting characteristics: 'Hard but soft. Because of this unique characteristic when having our Go stones fit between your fingers they can create irreplaceable feelings when used on a Go board. This is thanks to our special technique "Go stone shaping" or "Te-zuri" in Japanese. This "hard but soft” texture was created and only available in Miyazaki prefecture’s Hyuga city where the technique has been passed down from generation to generation. During the Te-zuri process we use two types of traditional tools: a large and round grinding stone as well as a special shell stick called "Kaibo." While trimming the surface and paying great detail to its thickness the form of the Go stone becomes evenly shaped. This traditional technique gives life to the clamshells and produces high quality clamshell Go stones.
Every one of our Go boards are made from natural wood. Every tree or piece of wood has different qualities and characteristics due to the tree's environment, soil, and climate while it was growing. Go and Shogi boards must always produce a beautiful and well-developed feeling while having a nice color, shine, and durability as a whole. In order to help create a new board we must maximize the various \advantages of its raw materials by paying closer attention to the details of the wood. We put our heart and soul into making our Go boards.Always cherish the wood, look at wood, touch the wood, and listen to the wood when making creations from wood. The craftsmen, together with the gathered wood, create Kurokigoishiten's Go boards.
Using a Japanese sword to draw the lines onto a Go board, this technique is known as Tachi-mori. We apply a thin amount of lacquer to the blade of a Japanese sword for straight uniform lines. For this an appropriate amount of lacquer must be added to the blade. 38 uniform lines are then drawn onto each board. In the case where even one line is drawn incorrectly the lines are then redrawn onto a new board to achieve perfection. For the process of Tachi-mori, high concentration and mental power are both highly required for this process.
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We also stock Go bowls made by traditional craftsman Takashi Nishikawa, the pride of Miyazaki and one of our most respected craftsmen. Having started working with a lathe at the age of 20, he has been working, carving and crafting wooden products on a daily basis for more than 50 years now. Even within the quality-conscious Japanese market, Nishikawa is regarded as one of the foremost craftsmen. His exquisite techniques have won him a long line of passionate fans. The Go bowls he makes are all branded with a special identifying mark, and come with a certificate of authenticity.
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