Reframe Japan, Wabi-Sabi

Kamonseki, spherulitic rhyolites

Kamonseki, spherulitic rhyolites in Japan

In Japan, there is another discriminating stone which can be suitable as ornamental purposes.

The name of stone is Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ).

It is difficult to explain the meaning of the name, however, the meaning of the "花紋石" is "Flower Pattern Stone" if we make a literal translation of it. However, it is not very good. Because I feel something special for the name of Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ) from the word. If I translate "花紋" with my computer, then “Petaloid” is outputted. The word of "Petaloid" is used to explain structure for petaloid bases of Pet bottles. So, computers seem to judge "Petaloid" and "Flower Pattern" to be very alike. I still do not like the name of Petaloid stone.

So, I came up with kind of the following names:

Flower petal stone

Fluttering petals stone

Blossoms shower stone

Dancing blossom stone

I like "Blossoms shower stone" since it seems to be explaining the condition of fluttering flower petals or snowflakes.

Anyway, going back to the subject, I would like to explain the Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ). So, you can know which name is better to describe the characteristic of Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ).

Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ) is kind of spherulitic rhyolite found in Aomori prefecture which is the northernmost prefecture on Honshu and faces Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait.

In petrology, spherulites are small, rounded bodies that commonly occur in vitreous igneous rocks. They are often visible in specimens of obsidian, pitchstone and rhyolite as globules about the size of millet seed or rice grain, with a duller luster than the surrounding glassy base of the rock, and when they are examined with a lens they prove to have a radiate fibrous structure. In the case of obsidian, obsidians from certain places, the inclusion of small, white, radially clustered crystals spherulites of the mineral cristobalite in the black glass produce a blotchy or snowflake pattern. The obsidian is called as Snowflake Obsidian.

From my perspective, Snowflake obsidian and Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ) are equally beautiful. In both cases, spherulite makes specific markings, which is snowflake or flower petal, on the stone.

Please see the following photo:

Quote from 緋山酔恭の山水石美術館 Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ):

Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ), Blossoms shower stone

Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ), Blossoms shower stone

Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ), Blossoms shower stone

Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ), Blossoms shower stone

The stone come from Iwasaki (岩崎村 Iwasaki-mura) which was located in the southwestern corner of Aomori Prefecture, facing the Sea of Japan. Iwasaki was merged with the neighboring and expanded town of Fukaura, and thus no longer exists as an independent municipality. From the west coast of Aomori, spherulitic rhyolites having flower petals patterns can be found.

However, almost of them have monochrome as background color, such as gray, medium brown, or reddish brown. Only spherulitic rhyolite from Iwasaki area has colorful background, such as blue, red, or white.

I said that patterns caused by spherulites found on the stone like flower petals. On the other hand, there is another opinion that it also looks like sparkler, which is called Senko hanabi (線香花火), a traditional Japanese firework. Senko hanabi are said to somehow hypnotize the watcher into silence and to evoke mono no aware (translated as "an empathy toward things," or "a sensitivity to ephemera"), a Japanese term describing a flash of sadness felt when reminded of the beauty and briefness of life. "The poignantly ephemeral has long been appreciated in Japan and is still felt in the quiet celebration of senko hanabi."

Japanese also enjoy viewing cherry blossoms in the spring. Along with the custom of flower viewing, there are the sights of cherry blossoms all over the country. In the cherry blossom viewing, we enjoy the beauty but also feel mono no aware.

So, Kamonseki ( 花紋石 ) which represents mono no aware is popular with stone collectors in Japan.