Sapporo nanseki (soft stone) is a construction material often used in old buildings. This stone has a soft texture and gentle coloration, and can be manufactured into genuinely local souvenirs that speak of Sapporo’s history.
Sapporo's soft stone is a "welded tuff" created as pyroclastic flow from volcanic eruptions some 40,000 years ago cooled and hardened. With a long history of use as a construction material, soft stone is resistant to fire, maintains warmth well, and is easily worked. Even today, there are soft stone buildings in Sapporo.
Ms Megumi Obara, representative director of Nansekiya, previously worked for a stone materials dealer which carried Sapporo soft stone. She used leftover pieces of Sapporo soft stone to create promotional magnets, an idea that would one day lead to her own soft stone gift and souvenir business.
Her "aroma stone" products make the most of the properties of Sapporo soft stone, and include delightful pieces shaped into houses complete with windows, masonry, and other decorations.
"I hope these gifts will bring back memories of the soft stone buildings that visitors have seen in Sapporo, even long after they return home," remarks Ms Obara. Her studio, which also serves as a shop, is a house in Ishiyama of Sapporo's Minami Ward, an area that was once home to many quarries. In this district steeped in Sapporo’s stone-working culture, she creates pieces of art that tell of Sapporo's history and the stories of the city's soft stone artisans.
These soft stone goods are gaining popularity and can now be found at gift shops, hotels, and museum shops throughout Sapporo.
9-22 Ishiyama 1-jo 2-chome, Minami-ku Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan