Yamagata Casting

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In Yamagata city, Yamagata prefecture, there are two towns with peculiar names – Do machi and Imono (cast metal) machi. The names of these places are derived from the local specialty Yamagata Imono.

The origin of Yamagata Imono dates back to the Heian era (from 794 to 1185 or around 1192). When Minamoto no Yoriyoshi, a famous warlord during the Heian era, visited the Tohoku region to suppress a revolt (called the Battle of Zenkunen-no-eki), the imono artisans who had been brought along found that the sand in the Mamigasaki river running through Yamagata city and the soil around the Chitose park were perfect for imono. Some of them stayed in the area and began producing imono, which is said to be the beginning of Yamagata Imono. Later on, imono was presented as a tribute when Yamagata castle was built.

During the Edo era (1603 – 1868) when the life of common folk became more stable and different crafts began blooming in many parts of the country, a domain lord named Mogami Yoshiaki reorganized the castle town, gathered up imono artisans and established a town dedicated to imono, the current Do machi. It was around this time that foot-operated fans were brought in and the production of large imono items such as temple bells and garden lanterns started. As many people visited the Dewa-sanzan mountain, Yamagata Imono turned into souvenirs such as Buddhist altar articles and everyday products which rapidly spread the name nationwide and expanded its application from traditional craftworks to the production of sewing machines and automobile components. In 1974, part of the production in Do machi moved to the Yamagata Imono industrial complex, as more space was needed, and Imono machi was thus established. This is the history behind the unique names of these towns.

Yamagata Imono, which evolved from being the products of imono artisans serving warlords to everyday items in Japan, comes in a variety of forms, from large items such as bells, garden lanterns and machine components to more familiar ones like knives and frying pans. Yet every single product represents the soul of Yamagata Imono, with their accurate arrangement, smooth surface, strength and beauty.

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