Each region of Japan has its own unique traditions and culture, from foods to festivals, to crafts and music. Iwate Prefecture is most famous for its renowned traditional crafts, which are created with years of training and a strong pride by local artisans. These skills have been passed down for generations, giving the products of Iwate Prefecture a strong unique personality.
One of the most famous crafts of Iwate is undoubtedly its Nambu Cast Ironware. Kettles and teapots forged in this style are highly regarded both domestically and abroad, especially in Europe and US.
In the middle of the 17th century, the Northern part of Iwate Prefecture, was ruled by the Nambu clan. With the rich natural resources of the land at their disposal, along with the support of the leaders of the domain, they sought to make Nambu Cast Ironware the specialty of the area. Their popularity spread and this history resulted in these iron pieces being certified as a “Traditional Craft of Japan” in 1975.
Nambu Cast Ironware is both chic and practical. Their design is simple and strong, yet distinct. The insides of the kettles and teapots are burned over a charcoal fire for about an hour to oxidize and coat the surface to prevent rust, giving them a long life with proper care.
Cafes in France and Belgium first began using Nambu Cast Iron kettles, and this exposure to their quality led to a growing demand for this product throughout Europe and US.
Hidehira-nuri Lacquerware is another traditional craft of the Iwate region. With over a millennia of history intertwined with the historical sites in Iwate, Hidehira-nuri Lacquerware is a local pride. The Lord Hidehira of the Fujiwara clan, which ruled over southern Iwate for around a century, invited craftsmen from Kyoto in the 1100’s to produce a new type of lacquerware (wooden bowls and utensils coated with sap from the lacquer tree). Even today, these Hidehira-nuri style pieces are highly prized by tea ceremony masters’ due to their history and beauty.
Hidehira-nuri is produced in four steps. First, wood from the trees of Japanese horse chestnut or Japanese zelkova are carefully dried out, then formed into bowls and utensils. The first coat of the lacquer is applied to the base wood and then polished to form a foundation. After that, more lacquer is applied in additional layers. Finally, a gold leaf decal is applied to complete the design.
Check out these traditional crafts when you visit Iwate Prefecture for the Rugby World Cup 2019, they surely will make a unique and top quality souvenir.