Nanbu tekki ironware will make food more delicious
Iwate Prefecture’s “Nanbu Tekki ironware” was the very first artifact to be registered as Japan's “Traditional artifact.” In recent years, iron kettles have become increasingly popular overseas, and colorful products have been added to the basic color and shape, and designs and uses now come in a wider variety. The Nanbu Tekki ironware is something you would definitely want for because it can be used for recipes and cooking of any country, with its variety of uses. They are highly recommended for yourself or as a souvenir. Here, we introduce you to Iwate Prefecture, where they produce Nanbu Tekki ironware, and also popular shops in Tokyo with affordable Nanbu Tekki ironware.
The history of Nanbu Tekki ironware
Iwate Prefecture, which is known for manufacturing Nanbu Tekki, and aside from producing quality iron for a long time, it is a place where there are abundant resources such as clay, Japanese lacquer, and charcoal, and Morioka City and Mizusawa Area of Oshu City are the two major production bases. Morioka Nanbu Tekki ironware was established around 400 years ago by the lords of the Nanbu Han *1) for generations, who reigned over the area and fully protected the industry and culture. The lords invited metal casters from all over the nation which resulted in the development of ironware. Afterwards, tea ceremony kettles became offerings to the Bakufu *2), and thus became well-known in Japan. Small iron kettles that made boiling water easy were produced, so ironware became popular among commoners as well.
*1) Han: A name that refers to local administrations. It was especially used during the Edo period. The Nanbu Han possessed the current Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture to the Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori Prefecture.
*2) Bakufu: The regime, which the Imperial family authorized generals practice politics.
Later, due to iron shortage from the war and its heavy weight being shunned, the number of shipments dropped, resulting in hardships and a crisis of techniques not being sufficiently passed down. However, adversities have been overcome, and the brand of Nanbu Tekki ironware has been kept until now.
In recent years, they are gathering attention from women suffering from anemia again, since water boiled in an iron kettle and food cooked using an iron pot or pan consist of iron dissolved in them, allowing iron intake. Also, they are very popular overseas, and for a while, there was a shortage of them.
If you take good care of them, it is said that Nanbu Tekki ironware can be used by your children's generation and grandchildren's generation. Why not go take a look?
Visiting where the craftsmen put their heart and soul into their products — “Oigen Cast Iron,” a shop with a factory close by
Oigen Cast Iron is located 45 minutes away by Tohoku Shinkansen from Sendai, the entrance of Tohoku region. Founded in 1852, it is a well-established shop is based in Oshu City. In their factory shop, which still has the old-fashioned Showa era atmosphere, you will find many everyday items such as gratin dishes and bread makers.
They make coffee using water boiled with their iron kettle for you to taste, so you can experience drinking coffee that has a milder taste than your usual one.
Not only do they have items you can actually purchase, but they have on display iron pots and tea pots that were used in the olden days.
Further, in their factory close by, you can observe the production process of an ironware in about 30 minutes, so if you plan to go there, be sure to book beforehand. You are sure to be immersed watching the process, from the dynamic pouring of red hot iron to the delicate finishing works.
“Oigen Cast Iron”
●45 Horinouchi Hadacho Aza Mizusawa-ku, Oshu-shi, Iwate Prefecture
●9:00-17:00 (factory tour: weekdays 13:30-16:00, book by the day before, for tours on a Monday, book by Friday of the previous week, tours may be suspended depending on circumstances)
Shops that sell Nanbu Tekki ironware, where you'd want to stop by while touring Tokyo
While in Japan, you may find it difficult to go to Iwate, but still want to see a Nanbu Tekki ironware. If you are one of those people, be sure to stop by this Tokyo shop, which has a large collection of Nanbu Tekki ironware.
“Tokyo Nanbu-Tetsubin” is a Nanbu Tekki ironware specialty shop located in a quiet town
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown for a bit, try going to “Tokyo Nanbu Tetsubin,” a shop that has been selling only Nanbu Tekki ironware products for over 2 decades. It is near Soshigaya Okura Station which is 20 minutes away from Shinjuku Station using Odakyu Line, and you can also get there by bus from Shibuya.
Once you step inside the stylish shop, you will see that they are displaying only the best and carefully selected products.
Other than iron kettles and tea pots, they have various small items related to ironware such as tea cloth on the wooden shelves. You will find yourself thoroughly browsing in a calm atmosphere.
“Tokyo Nanbu Tetsubin”
●3-4-1, Kinuta, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on Mondays and Thursdays
Even professionals frequently visit “KAMA-ASA Shoten,” located in the wholesale district of cooking ware
KAMA-ASA Shoten had been in business for over a century in Kappabashi Shotengai, Tokyo's largest cooking ware wholesale district where carefully selected items gather. It is only a 10-minute walk from the popular Asakusa, which is a good point.
Even professional cooks visit this shop, which sells products made by representative manufacturers of Nanbu Tekki ironware such as “Oigen Cast Iron” and “Iwachu.” They have a variety of sizes such as cooking pans (5,940 yen and up), and sukiyaki pots (6,264 yen and up).
KAMA-ASA Shoten's original rice cooking set (for 3 Go cooking: 10,800 yen, and more) is an excellent product, which can be used on a gas stove and also on an IH stove.
●2-24-1, Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo
●Open year-round (except for end-of-year and New Year's holiday)
*The above information was last updated November 17, 2017. For further information, please contact the shops directly.
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