[re:new tohoku] Iwachu

  1. Iwachu makes traditional Nanbu tekki ironware in diverse forms that can enhance contemporary lifestyles, and even contribute to good health. Videos: [re:new tohoku] Iwachu

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  2. Nanbu tekki (Nanbu ironware) has its roots in the craft of cast ironware, which dates back nearly 1,000 years. Although the quality of iron used has been modified since then, the basic methods have changed very little in the past 800 years.

    Nanbu is the name of a powerful local clan that was once dominant in this region. Northeast Japan is rich in high quality iron, as well as other resources necessary for producing ironware, including carbon, silicon, manganese, magnesium, sulphur and phosphorous, as well as the sand and clay used for making the casts.

    After many centuries of producing relatively simple iron products, modern day Nanbu tekki was born roughly 400 years ago, in the early Edo Period. In the 1500s, the birth of the modern day tea ceremony led to the development of kettles, teapots, and other Nanbu tekki products. The early Edo Period and the growth of Buddhism led to a flourishing trade in temple bells and iron statues, as well as many weapons, including cannons. In this period attention was paid not only the metalworks, but the artworks adorning the surface of the ironware. Intricately patterned teapots, bells and weaponry became a significant part of the Nanbu tekki tradition, which continues today.

    Based in Morioka, in Iwate Prefecture, Iwachu was established roughly 100 years ago, although its current incorporation was in 1962. In addition to the manufacture of many products that are based on designs from the 19th-20th centuries, Iwachu is proud of its products that serve contemporary needs. Some items have been designed by overseas designers, while Iwachu's own creators have developed colourful modern styles, as well as Dutch ovens, Chinese woks and other products that appeal to the tastes of people outside Japan, and fit well with contemporary lifestyles everywhere. Iwachu also boasts cookware designed for IH stoves, with wide and flat bottoms and are thinner, so that the heat is transmitted more quickly than conventional ironware.

    The making of Nanbu tekki is highly ecological. Virtually all of the materials used can be recycled. The sand and clay used in the casts are broken after the iron is poured, and reused. All leftover and polished iron and other metals are remelted and reused. Because the methods used today have changed little since the 1500s, the manufacturing process is clearly sustainable.

    Ultimately, though, the greatest benefits of using Nanbu tekki link to health. By using less oil in cooking, foods contain less fat and taste better. A small amount of iron is leeched into foods, which provides benefits for most people. Nanbu tekki does not require the use of any synthetic coatings, handles or other adornments. And to cap it all, Nanbu tekki looks great!

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  3. Iwachu is known for its application of tradition to contemporary needs. It has introduced series of multicoloured products, ranging from reddish to green, blue, brown, yellow, and purple. As IH stoves have become more common, Iwachu has introduced products with a larger and flatter base, enabling quick, even heating.

    Iwachu has also collaborated with a wide number of designers and brands to produce Nanbu tekki in innovative styles. But despite making cookware with contemporary needs in mind, Iwachu's Nanbu tekki (Nanbu ironware) is steeped in tradition.

    The iron is heated to temperatures exceeding 1,500 degrees Celsius. Before the molten iron is poured into the sand and clay mould, the inner surface of the cast is covered in soot, which makes it easier for the iron to be separated from the cast.

    The meticulous and timeless processes used in making Nanbu tekki have profound implications. The surface of Nanbu tekki develops a natural iron oxide film, which prevents rusting, absorbs oil during cooking and aids the cooking process. When cooking meat, the transfer of heat sears the exterior surface of the meat quickly, sealing the meat's natural juices. Not only does Nanbu tekki enable foods to be cooked without adding any unnecessary oils or water, but these benefits grow as it is used.

    It is no coincidence that Nanbu tekki is used for the grill tops that adorn many of Japan's best steak restaurants.

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[re:new tohoku] Iwachu

Adam Fulford Business

VIDEO CHANNEL GUIDE renewtohoku.org/videos

Great products from areas in Japan that were hit hard by the 2011 disaster were featured at Asia House in London in July, 2012. We are eager to identify buyers,…

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VIDEO CHANNEL GUIDE renewtohoku.org/videos

Great products from areas in Japan that were hit hard by the 2011 disaster were featured at Asia House in London in July, 2012. We are eager to identify buyers, designers and other partners who can help us make these products successful in markets outside Japan.

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