Aji Stone is produced only in the northeastern part of Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the only granite mined here in the world.
View of the stone mining site
Aji Stone is characterized by its hardness and beauty. According to Mohs hardness, which expresses the hardness of a mineral, Aji Stone is 7, equivalent to quartz (incidentally, diamonds have a hardness of 10 and marble has a hardness of 4). The fine particles and dense bonding allow for fine processing. It also has the advantage of being hard to weather because it contains little moisture, which does not penetrate into the stone.
It is also called "blue granite" because of its bluish hue with biotite, and has been highly prized since the Edo period (1603-1867).
Because of this characteristic, advanced techniques are required for processing, and there are skilled craftsmen in the production area who specialize in the quarrying, cutting, polishing, molding, engraving, and transportation of the stone.
However, the number of craftsmen involved in Aji stone is on the decline. We interviewed Mr. Chikara Ninomiya, President of Aoshima Co., Ltd. who has developed the "AJI PROJECT" brand, which proposes to enjoy Aji stone in daily life, overcoming the competition with foreign stones and the lack of promotion of its attractiveness.
He said, "The reason for the decline of the stone industry is that people who are not stonemasons have taken over the business." They prioritized efficiency and profit, importing cheap raw stones and processed products from abroad, which led to the exhaustion of the production area.
They prioritized efficiency and profit, importing cheap raw stones and processed products from abroad, which led to the exhaustion of the production area.
The first thing Mr. Ninomiya did was to make product prices fair. As a result of price competition and price destruction, craftsmen lost sight of their own value, and as a result, processing fees had not changed for 30 years.
Mr. Ninomiya also noticed something when he became a representative of the company. That is that the number of stone masons has decreased. A survey revealed that the number of companies had decreased from approximately 500 30 years ago to 200. Also, each company used to have a maximum of 20 employees, but now there are many companies with only one employee.
Although we only see finished products, Aji stone has many cracks and other flaws, and only a small percentage of the mined stone can be used for products. From the mining of the stone to the shaping of the product, there are more human eyes and hands involved than one might imagine. Many products are like sculptures made by human hands and would not be complete without the strength of the stone and the ability of the craftsman.
Stone mining siteAji stone craftsmen require skill in processing, and it takes at least four years to become a full-fledged craftsman. if aji project's products are recognized both in Japan and around the world, more people will find them attractive and become stone masons. With the hard and beautiful Aji stone, which can only be found here in the world, and the technology to process it, that day will not be far off in the future.