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Nigara Hamono Ltd.

Iron with 350 years of history
”Nigara Hamono Ltd.”

DATA
Nigara Hamono Ltd.
4-1 Kinzokucho, Hirosaki, Aomori
http://www.nigara.jp/en/index.html

Inheriting 350 years of history

Tsugaru area in Aomori Prefecture has been a thriving steel manufacturing area for a long time. At the foot of Mount Iwaki, steel manufacturing has been carried out on a large scale, and iron swords from the Nara period to early Heian period have also been discovered here. This trend continued over several eras, and more than 100 blacksmiths were in business in Hirosaki during the Edo period forming a town of blacksmiths. One of the blacksmiths was the Nigara Family which received orders to make swords for the Tsugaru clan about 350 years ago, and is the origin of Nigara Hamono Ltd. which we visited. They have become one of Japan’s leading swordsmith.

Kitchen knife certified as Traditional Craft of Aomori Prefecture

Active swordsmiths well into the Showa era, in particular, Kunitoshi Nigara is a renowned master craftsman, and has received numerous awards such as Sword Making Technology Presentation Grand Prize. They have also had the honor of making dedication swords for Ise Shrine and Meiji Shrine.
 Nigara Hamono Ltd. inherits the history of the Nigara Family. Although sword making was removed from their scope of work in 1965, the technology of sword making is still being used. Kitchen knives are made by hitting the base steel which is combined with hard steel. These kitchen knives are certified as Aomori Prefecture Traditional Craft. The technology developed from knife forging has also been applied to welding, earning them high reputation in this field as well.

Passing on the skills of predecessors

”For example, at a dam construction site, when making the corridor which is going to be the scaffolding for installing the machine, you roast the trabecular bone of the iron and burn away any irregularities. You cannot do this if you don’t understand the nature of iron. ” said Toshihisa Yoshizawa, who we interviewed.
”Our predecessors learned that by actually working on it and from experience. We’ve acquired a lot of knowledge and advances in technology have been made, but our ancestors made things from the knowledge they gained through day-to-day work and living. That’s why Japan’s ”monozukuri”(manufacturing) is so amazing.”
 Over the 350 year history, they have inherited the skills nurtured by craftsmen, honed them and passed them on to the next generation. History continues to live on, not just in items that are visible in our daily lives such as a kitchen knife, but in places that are hidden from sight such as the steel frame within a modern building.

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