Japanese casting items, Traditional crafts

Japanese casting

Japanese cast iron items

On the contrary to the tide of modernization, some craftsmen have inherited the traditional casting production, especially the casting for daily products. Japanese famous traditional castings are Yamagata casting and Nanbu Tekki (ironware). They were designated as the first Japanese traditional crafts in 1975.

What is casting?

Casting is a metal product. Craftsmen pour melted metal in a mold, and cool it down. Human beings have produced casting since about B.C. 3000 ~ 4000.

The history of Japanese casting

The casting was introduced to Japan around B.C. 200~400. At first, Japanese people imitated the casting imported from China and Korean peninsula. Soon, Korean craftsmen removed in Japan, and introduced the casting.
In ancient time, casting was produced for the altar fittings for God or Buddha. Casting was the symbol of the authority. For example, the famous statue of Buddha in Nara prefecture “Rushanabutsu”, or the “Great Buddha of Nara” is made of casting. Around A.D. 800 ~ 1000, casting spread throughout Japan.

Contemporary Japanese casting

Now, casting become essential products for Japanese society. Car production, one of the biggest industry of Japan use various parts made of casting. In fact, Japanese casting production ranks the 4th of the world (2016.)

Yamagata casting

Yamagata casting starts its history about 950 years ago. Casting craftsmen arrived Yamagata and found it that the clay of Mamigasaki river side (a river in Yamagata prefecture) was good for making a mold for casting. They decided to stay Yamagata for making casts.
600 years ago, the lord of Yamagata castle patronized 9 casting craftsmen and they presented some castings to the lord.
Yamagata casting is characterized by the traditional casting called “Usuniku-birei”, which means the thin casting and the beauty of cast surface.

Items of Yamagata casting

Nanbu Tekki

Nanbu Tekki starts its history about 400 years ago. Morioka city, the producing area of Nanbu Tekki has good material for producing casting such as iron resources and clay. Successive Hanshu (a feudal load) of Nanbu-han (a feudal clan) encouraged the producing of casting.
The most famous item of Nanbu Tekki is Nanbu Tetsubin (cast iron kettle). Nanbu Tetsubin was invented by Nizaemon Koizumi 3rd. Nizaemon produced Nanbu Tetsubin from Yugama (iron pot for hot water). Yugama did not have spout and handle. Shorten Yugama, and attached spout and handle on it. In that way, Nanbu Tetsubin spread around Japan as a daily usable kettle.
Nanbu Tetsubin has beautiful decoration on the casting surface. Solid and dignified presence have won the popularity.

Item of Nanbu Tekki