Sumi is usually used with suzuri for calligraphy. Unlike suzuri is made from inkstone or tiles, sumi is made from soot of pine tree or oils and glue.
In Suzuka area, famous place for Suzuka circuit racecource in Mie prefecture, it is said that sumi production began in the beginning of Heian period (710 – 784) since good pine trees are produced in this area.
In addition to pine trees, the water there is weak alkalinity which suites to knead sumi paste. Plenty of natural resources produced there is one reason of this tradition.
After Edo period (1603-1867) started, samurais began to wear Mon Tsuki (family crest marked) black kimonos and sumi dyeing became popular. Also, because of Terakoya (school for small children) system was established, demand for ink was increased.
Kishu domain (current Wakayama prefecture and southern Mie prefecture), which had strong connection with Tokugawa dynasty, supported the production, too.
Currently, Suzuka Sumi tradition is inherited by only two traditional craft artisans, and Suzuka Sumi is the only designated traditional craft in black ink production. Also, Suzuka Sumi is known as firstly succeeded to create sumi in various colors.
The production of Suzuka Sumi involves warming glue to melt, kneading it with soot, forming, drying, and polishing the surface by shells. Some are drawn pictures or characters on it.
Suzuka Sumi was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1980.
Ise Katagami (pattern paper) is also known as the traditional craft produced in Suzuka City.