Nambu Ironware, Japan’s renowned traditional crafts combined with tradition and modernity

What is Nambu Ironware?

Photo: IWACHU Casting Works Jumbo tekki, Tekki gallery.

Nambu ironware (called Nambu Tekki in Japanese) is a traditional handcraft that Morioka Ci ty in Iwate Prefecture is proud of. They are mainly produced as daily use crafts such as tea kettles, teapots, iron kettles an d pots. The name ”Nambu” ironware comes from Nambu han (Nambu clan).

Nambu ironware has a long history going back to the Edo period, about 400 years ago. Morioka has long been an ideal place for casting production due to an abundance of high-q uality iron resources, lacquer and charcoal. The Nambu feudal lords encouraged and develop ed the manufacture of Nambu ironware, which spread throughout Japan as the traditional tec hnique and functionality were highly regarded.

With proper care, Nambu ironware can be a lifetime item, and now becomes more attractive n ot only in Japan but around the world.

The appeal of Nambu Ironware and the benefits of using it

Supplements iron and tastes better

Water boiled in an iron kettle is said to taste better. This is because the iron in the ke ttle dissolves into the water and the chalk in the tap water is absorbed by the inside of the kettle.

Drinking tea or coffee with mild-tasting hot water tastes good and provides iron. And the same goes for food cooked in an iron pot.

Sustainable products that can be used for a lifetime if cared for properly

Nambu ironware is very strong and seldom breaks. With proper care, it can be passed down from parent to child, and used for a lifetime.

High moisture retention

Once heated, iron is slow to cool down and retains heat well. The heat is not uneven and c an be thoroughly heated.

Various designs to fit in at the table

The variety of designs is one of the attractions of Nambu ironware products, ranging from products with the heavy style unique to ironware, to products such as kyusu, which are col orful and fit in with modern life.

History of IWACHU

IWACHU was founded in 1902 by Suekichi Iwashimizu, in Morioka city. This ironware workshop was originally a family business, but was incorporated in 1950 when a factory was built. After setting up a system to increase production, the company focused on developing sales channels and sales, making the iron kettles a big hit. In the 1960s, the company became the first in the industry to automate its factories. Around that time, the company became well-known in Japan, as it actively accepted factory tours to show production processes and was included in the sightseeing course in Morioka City.

For the past 30 years, at the request of a French tea distributor, the company has develop ed a unique technique for adding colorful colors to ironware.

Since its foundation, the company has been working to create products that blend into a mo dern lifestyle while preserving the over 400-year tradition of Nambu ironware.


At IWACHU, traditional craftsmen and many artisans are making products while inheriting th e history and manufacturing methods of Nambu ironware.

There are about 65 processes involved in making an iron kettle, most of which are done by hand. It is said to take at least 15 years to become a full-fledged craftsman of Nambu iro nware, which requires many processes and delicate works.

IWACHU products

From traditional tetsubin (iron kettles) to the colorful and popular kyusu (iron teapots), here are some of the products made by IWACHU.

Tetsubin (Iron kettles)

Tetsubin is a typical example of Nambu ironware. Like a kettle, it can be used to boil water directly over a fire. Each tetsubin is individually crafted using the traditional yakigata method and has a uniq ue surface decoration, such as the classic Arare pattern or tortoiseshell pattern, which c hanges in texture as the tetsubin is used. This change in the cast surface is another plea sure for tetsubin users.

Kyusu (Iron Teapots)

IWACHU is known for its colorful kyusu. Unlike the tetsubin for boiling water, the kyusu is specially designed for brewing tea and so has a tea strainer. It is coated with enamel on the inside to prevent rust so cannot be heated over an open fire.

However, today, with the rise in health consciousness, there are special kyusu that can be handled in the same way as tetsubin.


There are pots and pans that can efficiently supplement iron by using them. IWACHU pots and pans are designed to look great even when placed directly on the dining ta ble. With a few exceptions, they can also be used on induction hobs.


In Japan, furin (wind chimes) have long been seen hanging from the eaves of houses in summer.

It allows you to feel the rhythm of the wind through the sound they make, and makes hot summers feel cooler.

Nambu ironware furin are particularly popular for the clear tones that only iron can make. They are a must-have souvenir from Japan.

How to Use and Care

As mentioned above, Nambu ironware products can last a lifetime if properly cared for. There are some simple rules to ensure the longevity of your tools. For example, wash and dry utensils after use, and put the oil on cookware when using it. Please follow these care steps.

Tetsubin (Iron kettles) Care

When using for the first time:

After washing the kettle lightly, fill it up to the eighth part with water and boil it ove r medium heat. Then discard the water and repeat this process two or three times. *Take care not to heat it emptily. At first the water becomes cloudy due to the metal in the water, but repeating the process it will become colorless. It’s then ready for use.

After use:

Discard the hot water in the kettle and dry.

Kyusu (Iron Teapots) Care

After use:

As with tetsubin, dry thoroughly after use in order to prevent rusting and cloudy water.


Regular kyusu have an enameled inner surface and cannot be heated over an open fire or to boil water. Don’t use metal scrubbing brushes or hard sponges. This could damage the interior lining.

Kitchenware Care


Kitchenware, such as flying pans are coated to prevent rusting. Metal brushes and spatulas should not be used as they may scratch the surfaces.

Visit IWACHU Casting Works to see the craftsmanship

There is a theme-park style factory where you can see the production process of IWACHU’s Nambu ironware.

The whole production process from pouring iron into a mold made by a craftsman, to pushing and coloring the design, is carried out in the factory. You will be able to observe the actual work, so which processes you will be able to see wi ll vary from day to day.

After the factory tour, shop at the ironware gallery which boasts the best selection in pr efecture. You can find and purchase your favorite ironware.

There is also an exhibition gallery where you can have a good time!

IWACHU is one of Japan’s leading brands of Nambu ironware, which has preserved traditional Japanese craftsmanship while working to create products that fit in with modern life and a re close to our daily lives.

There are also many collaborative products with various characters.

If you travel to Iwate Prefecture, why not stop by IWACHU Casting Works? Pick up a traditi onal Japanese craft that you can pass onto the next generation!

Location IWACHU・IWACHU Casting Works
*Working days and details are available on the website.
Address 2-23-9 Minami Senboku, Morioka-shi, Iwate
Transportation By Bus:
20 minutes by bus from Morioka Station to Kawakubo bus stop and continue by 5 minutes’ walk
Official website