Jadeitite (jadeite jade) from Japan: History, characteristics, and perspectives

Tatsuki Tsujimori, George E. Harlow

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Jadeitite, known as 'hisui' in Japan, has been esteemed as sacred stone in both ancient and modern Japanese cultures. Although it was thought that the source material of Japanese jadeitite was brought from China, the identification of jadeite in 1939 changed this interpretation. Japanese jadeitites and jadeite-rich metasomatic rocks are found in Paleozoic and also Mesozoic geotectonic units. All localities are situated in serpentinite mélange with high-pressure metamorphic rocks and/or serpentinite lenses within a high-pressure metamorphosed complex. Outcrop exposures of contact between jadeitite and host serpentinite are extremely rare. Normally the jadeitites show lithological heterogeneity in the same locality due to multiple deformation, recrystallization, and metasomatic fluid infiltration. Studies over the last two decades have interpreted jadeitite in worldwide either as the direct aqueous fluid precipitate (P-type) from subduction channel into the overlying mantle wedge, as the metasomatic replacement (R-type) by such fluids of oceanic plagiogranite, graywacke, or metabasite along the channel margin, or a combination of these two processes. Japanese jadeitites are classified into one or the other type. Multiple stable isotope characterization analyses for jadeitite and related metasomatic rocks and serpentinite become increasingly important to decode fluid behaviors in past subduction zone. However, available geochemical data on Japanese jadeitite are very limited in comparison with other studied localities. More systematic research will unlock new insights about fluid flow and its impacts at the bottom of forearc mantle where jadeitites form. Chemical differentiation and transportation of the fluids involved in jadeitite- formation are crucial topics requiring further research. Nevertheless, the designation of jadeite (and jadeitite) as the national stone of Japan by the Japan Association of Mineralogical Sciences in 2016 should bolster education of the public about this revered stone and its role in subduction zone processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-196
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Mineralogical and Petrological Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1


  • High-pressure metamorphism and metasomatism
  • Jadeite jade
  • Jadeitite
  • National stone of Japan


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