Oigen Foundry have been making handmade cast ironware since 1852. They are custodians of Nambu Tekki and work to ensure these traditional arts are kept alive.
Nambu Tekki – Cast Ironware
In Iwate prefecture, Japan they have been making cast ironware for over 900 years. About 400 years ago the lords of the Nambu clan who built Morioka castle took an interest in developing culture amongst the locals. Artisans from Kyoto were invited to refine the aesthetics of the local craftsmen and cast ironware from the area became much sought after.
In 1975 Nambu Tekki was designated as an important cultural asset and given the honorary status of traditional craftsmanship. Nambu Tekki is revered by the Japanese as being of the highest quality and rightly so due the labour intensive processes in making these items.
Cast ironware from the Nambu region can take 60 steps to process and they say it takes over a decade to become a half decent ironmaker. Only after 40 years in one considered worthy of the title Master Craftsman.
Only cast iron ware from Morioka City, Mizusawa and Oshu city is allowed to carry the title of Nambu Tekki. Oigen have been given the certification of Nambu Tekki and are custodians in ensuring this traditional art is kept alive.
Oigen Foundry is located in Oshu city, Iwate prefecture – on the northeastern end of Honshu. Iwate is the second largest prefecture in Japan. It is rich in natural resources and is home to some of the best skiing in world.
In spring wild edible plants are foraged throughout Iwate by home cooks and local chefs who return in autumn for the rich bounty of mushrooms. The matsutake and maitake mushrooms of the region are legendary.
Iwate is famous also for its seafood. Scallops, sea urchin and abalone often make a showing on local menus. The Sanriku coast has some of the best fishing in all of Japan and anglers visit in droves during the warmer months.
The sea and land are so blessed with nature that macrobiotic chefs and slow food advocates come to Iwate to sample it’s amazing produce.
Just outside of Oshu city is the famous Maesawa beef, which is highly marbled and commands equally high prices. It is only available at restaurants and shops that have been certified as official distributors.
Rice is grown as it is in most parts of Japan but the availability to fresh mountain spring water has led no fewer than 29 kura in the area. The Nambu Toji (master brewers) are considers some of the most highly skilled in Japan.