Protecting the Traditional Method of Creating  ”Sumi-ink” ”Kobaien”

Protecting the Traditional Method of Creating
”Sumi-ink” ”Kobaien”

”Yuen zumi”

Nara is famous for its ”sumi-ink”. It was introduced from Kokuri about the year 600 and has been refined and used since the Heian period. However, Nara ink drastically changed all this.
Originally the ”sumi-ink” that was imported was ”shoen zumi” which were made by burning pinewood, its soot used. In contrast to this, the ”yuen zumi” Nara ink was made by soot from rape seed and sesame seed oils. This technique was invented at Kofukuji during the Muromachi period. Compared to former ”shoen zumi”, the dark pitch of black, the glaze, and the texture while grinding the ink all improved drastically. Ever since, ”yuen zumi” has been highly appraised and used throughout the country.

Observing the traditional method

Long-established ”Kobaien” opened in 1577 and inherits this traditional ”yuen zumi” method to manufacture quality ”sumi-ink”. Nakata was given the opportunity to watch the ”saien” procedure, where soot was collected after burning vegetable oil in a vessel. The numerous lit vessels all lined up in the dark room was a spectacle that gave off a sense of eternity. Fire lit to create ink; the procedure being carried on for more than 400 years. This light will most likely continue well into the future.


Kobaien Co., Ltd.
7-banchi Tsubaicho Nara-shi Nara