Nambu Ironware (南部鉄器) is Iwate Prefecture‘s most representative traditional craft. The ironware-making in Morioka started in the early 17th century. The lord of the Morioka Domain invited a tea iron kiln maker from Kyoto when he was building Morioka Castle. Since then, the ironware-making industry has prospered because of the availability of high-quality materials and the protection of the Morioka Domain.
The benefits of using Nambu ironware include that the water boiled with it doesn’t cool down easily. And because the ironware releases irons into the liquid it holds, the water becomes softer and smoother to drink and can help prevent anemia!
As the origin of the Nambu Ironware, many shops in the city sell it, but below are the best ones to visit. The quality of their products are exceptional, and their products are highly valued across the world. One of them even allows you to visit a Nambu Ironware workshop!
The Best Spots to Visit for Nambu Ironware in Morioka
Kamasada Casting Workshop (釜定)
Nanbu ironware (南部鉄器) is another renowned specialty of Morioka. If you are interested in bringing a couple of the ironware home, visit Kamasada. The long-established Nanbu ironware workshop is run by a kind lady with an artistic personality, so her design smartly incorporates contemporary designs into ancient Japanese traditional craftsmanship.
Having lived in Finland for a few years, cast iron kettles aren’t the only utensils that Ms. Miya creates. Her casting iron pots with removable wooden handles are popular among those who value iron pots. If you love cooking, we are sure you would want to bring one home when you see the stylish multipurpose pot!
In fact, all the daily utensils Kamasada made are artwork. Even a simple bottle opener is smartly designed, and it can also be a decor for your home. This was why she was able to bring her products to the world and hold exhibitions in Western countries. As most products are handmade, the popular ones are usually sold out and have a long waiting list.
Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, as long as you enjoy visiting art galleries, you will enjoy your visit to Kamasada.
Kamasada Casting Workshop’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Kamasada Casting Workshop is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm from Monday to Saturday.
- The shop is a 3-minute walk from the bus stop, Morioka Bus Center.
Besides Kamasada Casting Workshop, Iwachu is another Nanbu Ironware spot in Morioka. In fact, the ironware maker established in 1902 may be a better place to visit if you are interested in seeing the workshop. It is more like a theme park-style factory. Apart from the Nanbu Ironware Gallery, touring around the facility is possible. Note if you want to see the craftsmen making the ironware, visit Iwatchu on a weekday.
When you hear the word ironware, a heavy pot may pop into your mind. While traditional ironware is available for purchase, the industry has evolved so that the utensils in the shop will surprise you and change your view of ironware. The newly designed products that match modern lifestyles are colorful, which makes them popular. Nowadays, the quality of Iwachu’s product is so good that it is also sold in more than 20 countries, especially in Europe and the U.S.!
The best news is some of Iwachu’s ironware is compatible with induction cooktops. So even if you don’t have a gas stove, you can still benefit from the soft and iron-rich water cooked from the Nambu Ironware!
What to Expect When You Get to Iwachu
At the entrance, there is a jumbo iron pot with a diameter of two meters. Using this pot, you can prepare a meal for 2,000 people at once! The most surprising fact about the pot is it isn’t just a decoration but has been used to cook taro potatoes! You will also find an ironware kettle that can boil enough water to make 2,000 cups of tea.
Tip: Between 1 pm to 2 pm is usually when 1,500 degrees of bright red melted iron is poured into moulds. Plan your visit accordingly if you are interested. As the factory’s schedule can change, it is best to enquire first using their Web Form.
Iwachu’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Iwachu is open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm from Wednesday to Monday.
- It closes on the 31st of December and the 1st of January.
- From JR Morioka Station, take a bus bound for Yahaba (矢巾) and get off at Kawakubo (川久保).
Use the big supermarket as a landmark if you can’t find Iwachu. It is just behind the supermarket.