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Suzuki Morihisa Studio|400 years of tradition and innovation (Nanbu Tekki)

Suzuki Morihisa Studio, located in Morioka City, is a long-established manufacturer of Nanbu Tekki that has been in business for about 400 years since the Edo period. While preserving the traditions handed down from generation to generation, the studio has adopted a new sensibility, making the most of the characteristics of iron in its manufacturing.

Suzuki Morihisa Studio, located in Morioka City, is a long-established manufacturer of Nanbu Tekki that has been in business for about 400 years since the Edo period. While preserving the traditions handed down from generation to generation, the studio has adopted a new sensibility, making the most of the characteristics of iron in its manufacturing.

 

A studio that has walked along with the history of Nanbu Tekki

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the history of the Suzuki Morihisa Studio is the history of Nanbu Tekki.

Morioka cast iron, the forerunner of Nanbu Tekki, is said to have originated in the early 17th century when the lord of the Nanbu domain, who ruled the northern part of Iwate Prefecture, invited a potter from Kyoto to make tea ceremony kettles. After that, many foundries and kettle makers were brought in from all over Japan, and through friendly rivalry, they laid the foundation for Nanbu Tekki.

One of them was Nuito Ietsuna Suzuki, who was brought in from Koshu, the home of the Nanbu family, in 1641 as an official foundry. The Suzuki family had served the Nanbu clan as founders for generations, casting Buddhist altars and bells. They also produced tea kettles and iron kettles and left behind many masterpieces.

In 1974, the 13th Morihisa, Hankichi Suzuki, became the first person in the Nanbu Tekki industry to be designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure), making “Suzuki Morihisa” brand immortal. The 13th Morihisa was also a tea ceremony master and produced many masterpieces that evoke the wabi and sabi of the tea ceremony.

The 14th Morihisa, Kanji Suzuki, was a professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and was also active as a multimedia artist, bringing a modern touch to traditional techniques. He is also known as the creator of the "Owl Tree", a monument commemorating the opening of Morioka Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line.

The current head of the family is Shiiko Kumagai, the 15th Morihisa and the first female foundry in the history of Nanbu Tekki. She specializes in graceful and delicate designs that only a woman can create, expressing lightness, warmth, and softness.

In this way, each time the head of the Suzuki Morihisa Studio changes, he or she brings out their individuality and creates a new style. Currently, Shiiko, Shigeo Suzuki who will soon succeed the 16th Morihisa, with other young craftsmen, is refining his skills and challenging the new possibilities of iron materials.

 

Gems created by an uncompromising spirit for craftmanship

One of the characteristics of Nanbu Tekki produced at Suzuki Morihisa Studio is its simple, lean form and deep rust color. It is both practical and sophisticated, and fits easily into modern life.

Nanbu Tekki is often perceived as heavy and difficult to use, but Suzuki Morihisa's Nambu tekki is lighter than conventional one, making it easier to handle. In general, the thickness of Nanbu Tekki is about 3 to 4 millimeters, but here, it is reduced to 2 to 2.5 millimeters to make it lighter.

In addition, fine sand is used to express the fineness and beauty of the product. However, if the sand is too fine, gas can easily accumulate when the iron melts and hardens, causing it to crack or break. In order to avoid such risks, they go through a hundred processes from making the mold to casting and coloring.

Further, the surface is colored with tooth blackening to achieve a deep color that looks as if it has been used for a long time, making the delicate patterns look even more beautiful. These unique colors, textures, and expressions are the appeal of Suzuki Morihisa's Nanbu Tekki. This is the fruit of an uncompromising spirit of craftsmanship and artisanal work.

 

Nanbu Tetsubin for a luxurious moment

One of the most famous Nanbu Tekki products is Tetsubin. A Tetsubin is a cast iron container with a handle? and a spout, which was developed from a tea kettle. Like a kettle, it can be used to boil water directly over a fire.

Water boiled in a Nanbu Tetsubin has a mellow, angular taste. The iron in the Tetsubin is dissolved in the hot water, and impurities such as chalk in the water are absorbed by the inside of the Tetsubin. Not only it tastes good, but it also helps replenish iron.

Iron is a metal that rusts easily, but the inside of the Tetsubin is treated with a process called "Kanakedome”. This is a technique in which the Tetsubin is burned with charcoal and covered with an oxide film. This finish protects the metal from rusting.

You might think that Nanbu Tetsubin would be difficult to care for, but the rules for handling them are quite simple. The only rules are not to leave water in the Tetsubin for long periods of time, not to burn it dry, and not to touch the inside. The Tetsubin is very durable, and if used properly, it can be passed on to the next generation.

Nanbu Tetsubin can last a lifetime, and the more you use it, the better it will taste. The taste of coffee or tea brewed with water boiled in the Tetsubin is exceptional.

 

Suzuki Morihisa Studio

Suzuki Morihisa Studio has been producing Nanbu Tekki for 400 years since the Edo period (1603-1868) in the Morioka area of Iwate Prefecture. It has been serving the Nanbu domain as a foundry for generations since 1641, when Nuito Ietsuna Suzuki was brought in from Koshu as an official foundry. The studio continues to produce Nanbu Tekki that blends in with modern lifestyles while inheriting the traditional techniques.

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