Japanese Chrysanthemum Flower Stones
日本の菊花石 Part 2.
The first Japanese chrysanthemum flower stones collected before 1940 were primarily from river beds and stream banks in Neo Valley and appreciated for their subtle beauty. There were a limited number of these stones. From the 1960s onward, small- to medium-sized boulders were taken from several mines in Neo Valley. Most of these had to have some of the matrix stone removed and then polished to expose the three dimensional mineral formations embedded in the stones. These were more abundant and could meet the growing domestic demand for these stones.
There are several areas in Japan where chrysanthemum flower stones are found. Neo Valley above Gifu is the principal location for the vast majority of these stones. There were several mines in this valley at the peak of their appeal to stone collectors. Presently, we know of only one active mine today. Neo Valley stones are attractive because they often have impurities in the rock that imparts color to the mineral formations. Furthermore, stones from this area often have a dark colored matrix which provides contrast and highlights the flower-like formations. We estimate that 80% to 85% of the Japanese chrysanthemum flower stones originated in Neo Valley. They have remained popular and have retained their value in the Japanese marketplace.
Three other regions are known to produce these stones—Shimonita, Okutama and Shikoku.
Shimonita chrysanthemum flower stones are distinct from all others by their very narrow petal-like rays that are bluish-green in color. They were extracted from a canyon wall many years ago. Thus, high quality stones from this site are highly desirable but hard to obtain. Shimonita is a town in a forested covered mountainous region of southwestern Gunma Prefecture.
Okutama is a town located in the mountains of the greater Tokyo metropolitan region. The headwaters of the Tama River are located here. Chrysanthemum flower stones from this site are rarely seen. They have fairly narrow ray-like mineral formations and are typically white.
Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands comprising Japan. A small number of beautiful chrysanthemum flower stones have been found in the Niyodo River and are known for their sharply contrasting dark red matrix stone with white flower-like mineral formations. Good Shikoku stones are highly sought after because of their scarcity.
A few chrysanthemum flower stones have been found in the Kamo River near Kyoto and along the beaches of the Izu Peninsula.
Nearly all of these stones are used as indoor decorative pieces. They range in value from $50 to over $700,000. The more typical prices range from a few hundred dollars to three thousand dollars. We have seen only three large chrysanthemum flower stones that are used as garden stones; two were worked to form shallow water basins on the top of the stones.
To learn more about these stone, we refer you to the most comprehensive book on this subject--Chrysanthemum Stones, The Story of Stone Flowers published in 2010 by Elias and Nakaoji.