Lamp Soot Ink (Yūen Zumi )
Ink is indispensable for those responsible for
administration and culture. For this reason, ink was produced all over Japan in ancient times.
Circumstances changed, however; there is a reason that Nara became famous
for ink production. This is because, at the beginning of the Muromachi period,
a monk at the
Kōfuku-ji Temple tried making ink out of the soot from votive oil lamps lit in
front of the Buddha statues. This gave rise to lamp soot ink (yūen zumi), made from soot
obtained from such lamps. Yūen zumi became the most commonly used ink because it
gave a deep black color. Nara, with its early adoption of lamp soot ink
production, became known as place where high-quality ink was made, a
reputation that it maintains to this day.