Tatara Iron Making (Tatara Seihin)

Carrying on the tradition of Japan’s one and only tatara iron making and combining it with modern craftsmanship to add new value to Japanese ironwork

Production Area

Yasugi City / Unnan City / Okuizumo Town / etc., Shimane Prefecture

Historical Details and Geographic Characteristics

In the mountainous regions of eastern Shimane Prefecture (the Izumo region), the development of Japanese ironwork known as tatara iron began. In addition to charcoal, the process used high-quality iron sand with very few impurities, which was taken from magnetite-containing granite. The production of Japanese iron became the primary industry supporting the Matsue Domain during the Edo period, and due to the high quality, around 50 percent of iron production occurred in Shimane Prefecture by the early Meiji period.

With the expansion of modern western iron production, tatara iron making weakened and came to a halt during the Taisho period; however, in 1977, The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords rejuvenated the tatara industry in Oro, Okuizumo, and thereby provided the raw materials for Japanese swords around Japan. The Tanabe family of Yoshida in Unnan City, one of three families of the Izumo region and heirs to the tradition dating back to the Muromachi period, also launched the “Tatara no Sato” project in 2018, which also helped revitalize tatara manufacturing. The idea was to create an area for the development of new tatara products which combined ancient techniques with modern-day skills.

Also, the Okuizumo Tatara Brand Promotion Council was established in 2016 in Okuizumo, and areas searching to receive approval to produce new products propelled the industry. From this, decorative swords, kitchen knives, knives, accessories, and others using the tatara production methods continued to be developed.

Main Retailer/Affiliated Museums・Exhibition Facilities

Wakou Museum

Address 1058 Yasugicho, Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone 0854-23-2500
Hours of Operation 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays (If the Wednesday falls on a holiday, the museum will close the following day),
Year-end/New Year holidays
Admission Fee Adults: 310 yen, High School Students: 210 yen, Middle School Students: Free
URL http://www.wakou-museum.gr.jp/
Social Media https://www.facebook.com/pages/%E5%92%8C%E9%8B%BC%E5%8D%9A%E7%89%A9%E9%A4%A8/230438707015663/

Historical Museum of Iron

Address 2533 Yoshida, Yoshidacho, Unnan City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone 0854-74-0043
Hours of Operation 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays (If the Monday falls on a holiday, the museum will close the following day)
Admission Fee Adults: 520 yen, Elementary – Junior High School Students: 260 yen
URL http://www.tetsunorekishimura.or.jp/

The Itohara Memorial

Address 856-18 Otani, Okuizumo Town, Shimane Prefecture
Phone 0854-52-0151
Hours of Operation 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays, Year-end/New Year holidays
Admission Fee Adults: 650 yen, High School / College Students: 450 yen,
Elementary / Middle School Students: 250 yen
URL http://itoharas.com/
Social Media https://www.facebook.com/itoharas/

Kabeya Shuseikan Museum

Address 1655 Kamiai, Okuizumo Town, Shimane Prefecture
Phone 0854-56-0800
Hours of Operation 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Closed Mondays (If the Monday falls on a holiday, the museum will close the following day),
mid-December to mid-March
Admission Fee Adults: 700 yen, High School / College Students: 400 yen,
Elementary / Middle School Students: 400 yen
URL http://kabeya-syuseikan.com/
Social Media https://www.facebook.com/kabeyasyuseikan/

Map

Related articles

  1. Unshu Abacus (Unshu Soroban)

  2. Iwami Ware (Iwami Yaki)

  3. Sekishu Traditional Japanese Paper (Sekishu Washi)

  4. Sekishu Roof Tiles (Sekishu-gawara)

  5. Izumo Stone Lanterns (Izumo Ishidoro)

  6. Bizen Ware (Bizen Yaki)