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Nambu Ironware: A Traditional Craft for Delicious Japanese Tea

Have you ever heard of Nanbu ironware, one of the great craft traditions of Japan? You might have seen its tasteful design before, but the excellence of Nanbu ironware is found in more than just its looks. Our article today is perfect for the gift-hunter: not only will we be taking an in-depth look at this traditional craft, but we’ll also talk about how to choose the right one for you based on how you’ll use it. Photo:


What is Nanbu Ironware?

Called “Nanbu-tekki” in Japanese, it refers to items crafted in Morioka City and Ōshū City (once called Mizusawa) in Iwate Prefecture. Carefully handmade one at a time by artisans engaging in a traditional Japanese craft with four centuries of history, these ironware goods boast a depth of tasteful beauty. One of the most famous and notable types of Nanbu ironware is the Nanbu iron kettle. Together with the adoption of the Nanbu iron teapot as an everyday item of the people following the historical spread of Japanese tea ceremony, the ironware of Nanbu became famous all across Japan.


The Virtues of Nanbu ironware

1. Helps with Anemia

These traditional works of craft enrich the iron content of whatever is prepared in them, which can help alleviate iron deficiency for those with anemia.

2. Long-lasting

When compared with pottery and porcelain, ironware is far more durable and can handle over a century of regular use. Think of them as items for a lifetime, ones you can pass down the generations.

3. Tasteful Design

There’s an undeniable charm to the richly tasteful shades and indescribable aura of quality that Nanbu ironware possesses.


Nanbu ironware and Japanese Tea

People across the world love Japanese tea, which has a number of positive effects on health including lowering cholesterol levels, reducing body fat, and helping to prevent dementia. We’re going to introduce some reasons why we’d like you to try drinking Japanese tea from Nanbu ironware.


1. Excellent Heat Retention

Your tea won’t go cold quickly in an iron Nanbu tea pot, allowing you to enjoy a leisurely teatime.

2. Brings Out Flavors

The iron in Nanbu ironware eliminates a lot of the chlorine in drinking water and further fortifies it with iron, so even if you use regular old tap water to steep Japanese tea, employing Nanbu ironware will make the flavor soft and mellow. This also holds true for coffee and black tea, too! These claims become all the more credible when you consider how popular Nanbu ironware is in tea ceremony culture, where flavor and etiquette reign supreme.

*There are also Nanbu ironware frying pans and cooking pots whose superior heat conduction mean that warmth is evenly distributed throughout the ingredients, bringing a depth of flavor even to everyday cuisine. It’s great for cooking flavorsome rice too, and we also recommend trying it outdoors.


Tips for Choosing Nanbu Ironware

One downside to Nanbu ironware is that it can rust, being made out of iron. There are some items that have enamel finishing inside, but even though this fights against rust, it also diminishes the iron enrichment effect. For people who are looking for the iron-supplement benefits of Nanbu ironware, it’s best to check beforehand if the item in question has enamel finishing or not.

  • Enamel finishing: doesn’t rust as easily so is suited toward those looking for something for ornamental use
  • No enamel finishing: carries the possibility of rusting but is best for those who plan on actual use (to supplement dietary iron, enhance flavors, etc.)


Nanbu Ironware Today


Declining demand proposes a tricky dilemma for Nanbu ironware, but a creative solution has been proposed to address this crisis: a fusion with modern design principles. Makers have produced colorful shades and variations that still leave the tradition of functionality intact. Pictured is a work of Nanbu ironware made by Iwachu, a brand with international recognition …and yet, the popularity of traditional black stubbornly prevails.


For those readers interested, please be sure to use this article as a guide when you go shopping for souvenirs!

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