Nambu “tekki” ironware – which is very Japanese yet highly stylish at the same time – seems to attract many foreigners.
Nambu ironware is said to have started around the middle of the 17th century, when the Nambu family, who were ruling the current northern part of Iwate prefecture, built Morioka castle and invited imoji and kamashi artisans from places such as Kyoto to have them make Buddhist altar articles, armor, and tea ceremony kettles as part of their plan to revitalize the city and promote cultural activities. With the rich natural resources of the land and the support of the domain leaders, Nambu ironware soon became the local specialty of the area. It came to be cherished as a gift to feudal lords.
The Nambu “tekki” iron kettle which is especially famous and popular, was originally made as a smaller, improved version of the tea kettle in the 18th century. It triggered an increase in the recognition of Nambu ironware in the public eye, and in 1975, it was certified as a Traditional Craftwork of Japan.
While experiencing ups and downs in modernization, within the traditional Japanese beauty fostered by such extensive training of techniques for over 400 years, Nambu ironware established a status in Japan with its combination of artistry and practicality. The iron kettle is also quite popular overseas. As some makers in Japan are exporting their products to Europe and America, the Nambu ironware can now be seen in Western homes, where people enjoy their tea together with other utensils such as Western-style pottery.
Nambu ironware is not only beautiful and practical but highly durable as well. Applying one of the techniques that has been used in the production of iron kettles since the old days, the inside of Nambu ironware is burned over a charcoal fire for about an hour to oxidize and coat its surface, which then prevents rust. Hot water boiled in an iron kettle is mild and tasty, and the water quality is said to get better and better with repeated use of the kettle. Moreover, such hot water is rich in iron, making it a hot topic among health conscious people and women who tend to be low on iron.
Recently Nambu ware in a variety of colors have made their appearance as well, proving to be very popular among foreigners.
While it is made of metal, Nambu ironware has a mysterious texture of unique softness and warmth. The best way to understand this is to try taking it in your hands yourself.
Iwachuu Iron Museum
2-23-9 Minamisenboku Morioka-shi Iwate-ken
Morioka station Oden souvenir Museum
1-44 Moriokaekimaedori Morioka-shi Iwate-ken