nambu tekki

Discovering Nambu Tekki: A Guide to Traditional Ironware

What is Nambu tekki (ironware)?

Nambu tekki is a traditional ironware product with a long history in the Nambu region of Iwate Prefecture, located in northern Japan. When most people think of Nambu tekki, they probably imagine mainly of iron kettles for boiling water. Water boiled using this tetsubin, which is manufactured using high-quality iron, is often used to enjoy green tea, black tea, and coffee. Boiling water in Nambu Tekki also has the characteristic of allowing the iron in the material to seep into the water, making it a good choice for those who are iron-deficient. Nambu tekki is handmade one by one by craftsmen, and is now exported to countries around the world for daily use. Why is Nambu tekki so popular and loved by so many people? Let's take a look at its characteristics and history.

The History and Beginning of Nambu tekki

Nambu ironware

The “Nambu tekki” brand began in 1959. The region was rich in resources such as iron sand, iron ore, clay from the mountains, and charcoal as fuel, which were needed as raw materials in the manufacture of castings, and became the foundation of the industry. Using these abundant resources, castings were actively manufactured in two regions, Oshu and Morioka. In 1959, it was decided to call the ironware produced in these two regions "Nambu tekki". The high quality of these products has made them a high brand that has spread throughout the world.

The beginning of casting production differs between the two regions. First, Oshu has the oldest history of ironware production. In the late Heian Period (about 930 years ago), Fujiwara no Kiyohira invited iron craftsmen from Omi Province to make armor and other items. Production of Buddhist ritual implements and iron pots and kettles became active, mainly for the general public. In Morioka, on the other hand, it is said that in the mid-17th century, the lord of the Nambu domain invited a tea ceremony potter from Kyoto in 1659 and had him make tea kettles. Under the protection of the clan, Morioka focused on the production of tea kettles and Buddhist altarware, and all tea kettles used in the Nambu domain at that time were manufactured in Morioka, where they became highly regarded as tea ceremony utensils and gifts. Later, tetsubin (iron kettles), which represent today's Nambu tekki, were developed and became widely used as tools for boiling water.<1>

Later, the Nambu tetsubin developed and spread throughout the country in place of tea kettles, but with the onset of war, its popularity began to wane. Restrictions on the use of iron prohibited the production of Nambu tekki, and after the war, demand declined due to changes in people's lifestyles. Despite these circumstances, the technology and passion for cast metal production was passed on to future generations, and in 1959, the situation turned around with the establishment of the "Nambu tekki" brand. In 1975, Nambu tekki was recognized as the first traditional handicraft of Japan, and its popularity continues to grow to this day.

What are the characteristics of Nambu tekki?

Nambu tekki is a mixture of tradition and modernity. There are three main characteristics that give it a rustic, sturdy, and dignified feel.

Durable and long-lasting

Nambu tekki is known for its durability. If used correctly and properly cared for, it can last for generations. Some craftsmen say that they can be used for 100 years, and in fact, there are stories of Nambu tekki being passed down from grandfather to children and grandchildren. Nambu tekki made by skilled craftsmen is of extremely high quality, making it ideal for those who want to cherish and use one item for a long time.

High heat retention and long-lasting heat

Nambu tekki has excellent heat retention properties, and once water is boiled, it can be kept hot for a long time. The thick material makes it difficult for heat to be released outside, which is great for maintaining hot water. Unlike iron teapots, Nambu tekki can be used over an open flame, so if the water gets cold, it can be boiled again. This is also a great point when enjoying tea, tea, or coffee with several people, since there are more occasions when hot water is used.

Simple design

Nambu tekki is characterized by its simple and beautiful design. Its unique texture decorates the kitchen and dining table and brings joy to everyday life. Nambu tekki is both functional and ideal as a part of interior design, and just having it in a room is a wonderful item that will make you feel at home.

How to use Nambu tekki

Using Nambu tekki is as simple as filling it with water and boiling water over an open flame or induction heating, but care must be taken in handling it. For example, after purchasing the item, you need to take care to perform the process of staining the water, and when washing it, do not use a sponge or a scrubber (as the inside will be damaged).

Before you start using an tetsubin

1.Remove the lid and lightly rinse the inside of the tetsubin with water. (Do not scrub with a sponge or scrubbing brush.)

2.Fill the tetsubin up to the eighth fill with hard water and bring to a boil for about 20 minutes.

3.Discard the boiling water and dry the inside with the residual heat.
Repeat steps 1~3 about 3 times before use.

*This is a quoted text from the Oigen

If you are concerned about rust on your tetsubin


  • Water
  • Tea grounds
  • Teapacks (for storing tea grounds)

1.Fill the iron kettle up to the eighth fill with water.

2. Pour in the tea grounds from sencha tea packets and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes after boiling. The color of the water will turn black.

3.Without removing the tea grounds, pour water into the kettle and fill it to the point that it does not overflow.

4.Leave the tetsubin filled with water for about half a day, then discard the water.

*If you are still concerned about the rust color, repeat this process 2~3 times.

*This is a quoted text from the Oigen

5 Ways to Distinguish Genuine Products from Counterfeits

When choosing Nambu tekki, it is important to buy from a reputable manufacturer. Be careful to choose authentic Nambu tekki, as counterfeit products are on the market due to their popularity. In this article, we would like to share with you four points to check when distinguishing genuine from counterfeit products!

Extremely low price

Nambu tekki is produced by craftsmen who pay attention to every detail. The surface is designed with intricate patterns, and the work produced by craftsmen who have spent a long time acquiring their skills cannot be made for $20-$30. Some of the ironware made by the fired method can cost more than $1,000. Here is a video showing what the craftsmen are thinking when they are making these pieces.

Made with high quality materials and polished techniques, Nambu tekki usually costs more than $100 for a 1L size. Be especially wary if the product is being sold at an obviously low price.

Products are not shipped from Japan

Authentic Nambu tekki is, of course, manufactured in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. However, the reality is that some online stores often ship from countries other than Japan. Of course, there is a possibility that the item is being sold as a used item, but it is better to consider the possibility that it may be a fake to reduce the risk of regret. Carefully check whether the store owner seems trustworthy.

Company name in the product site does not exist

Try searching for the company name listed within the product site. Does it appear online? If not, you need to be a little careful. There is a possibility that the ironware is not made in Japan, but manufactured in another country and sold as made in Japan.

There is a statement in the review that the product is not made in Japan.

E-commerce malls and online sites of various manufacturers sometimes have reviews. We recommend that you check for reviews stating that the product was not made in Japan. If users who had already purchased the product notice it, they will probably post it. It is a good idea to check the reviews to avoid accidentally purchasing a fake product.

The Japanese in the product description is wrong.

Nambu tekki is produced in Japan. If there is an obvious typographical error in the product description or the text in the picture, there is a high possibility that the product is fake. If you are unable to determine if the Japanese is incorrect, please consult a Japanese person you know or contact a member of this media staff for confirmation.

Conclusion: Once you buy genuine Nambu tekki, you will be with it for a lifetime.

Nambu tekki, made one by one by highly skilled Japanese craftsmen, is of high quality and can be used for a long period of time. While being a traditional product, Nambu tekki enriches our lives with its presence that blends beautifully with modern spaces. Unfortunately, because of its brand value, there are many imitations on the market, so please be careful. We hope that you will choose your own Nambu tekki and keep it with you as a lifelong item.