Making Niigata’s craft, ”Kiseru” ”Iizuka Metal K.K.”

Making Niigata’s craft, ”Kiseru”
”Iizuka Metal K.K.”

Tobacco, a form of hospitality, ”Kiseru” a reflection of originality

”Kiseru” is a traditional Japanese smoking pipe with 400-year history. One packs cut tobacco into the small round dish at the end, it is then lit and smoked. It was the only decorative accessory for men in Edo to Meiji eras. ”Kiseru” are often decorated with delicate carvings showing unique Japanese aesthetics. For the people of Edo era, ”kiseru” was a reflection of a person’s character. There was a ”tobacco culture” where people would take to collecting stylish ”kiseru” and tobacco pouches. In those days, it was said ”when entertaining a guest, offer tobacco before tea.” Tobacco was valued in the society and had an important role in entertaining and extending hospitality.

”Kiseru” and people both grow by forging them

”Kiseru” differ from cigarettes in that one needs to place cut tobacco into the small dish at the end. Light the tobacco, take a few puffs, then tap the pipe at the edge of an ashtray to knock out the ashes. Do not smoke until all the tobacco turn into ash. There is a certain sophisticated air to smoking ”kiseru,” it is tasteful and cool. The main material needed to make ”kiseru” is pure silver. The flat metal sheet is gradually rounded into the shape of the ”kiseru.” Silver is basically a soft metal but as it is forged into shape, the metal hardens. ”The more it is stricken, it becomes stronger, just like people. It’s never good to take the easy road,” Iizuka smiles.

A craftsman’s technique – the one and only ”kiseru” craftsman Noboru Iizuka

Tsubame-city in Niigata developed with the metal working industry since the Edo era. It was one of the major ”kiseru” manufacturing cities. But as time passed, production declined, and currently, Noboru Iizuka of Iizuka Metal is the only ”kiseru” craftsman existing today. Iizuka is 72 years old. He is the sole bearer of ”kiseru” culture. Iizuka once was an office worker but after retirement at 60, he restarted to make ”kiseru.” He devotes all his energy to making ”kiseru” to spread ”kiseru’s” existence and to prevent it from being buried in history.


Iizuka Metal K.K.
2635 Higashiota, Tsubame, Niigata Prefecture