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Shimane: introduced ancient Japanese Tatara iron production method; Facility opens in Izumo

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors view a model of an underground iron production furnace at a new factory in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture.

IZUMO, Shimane – A factory introducing a centuries-old iron production method known as ‘tatara’ has opened near the Koedo Tatara site in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, one of the remnants of iron production sites that used the traditional technique. Displays throughout the facility include panels and a model to introduce the method and location.

Tatara is an ancient Japanese ironmaking method that involves burning charcoal in a furnace to melt iron sand and extract iron. The technique is essential in the production of Japanese swords. The Izumo region in Shimane Prefecture has strong ties to Tatara iron production and is mentioned as an iron-producing region in an 8th century record.

The Koedo Tatara site was active for about 150 years, from the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th century. Located near the coast, it is known as the “tatara of the sea” due to its use of sea transportation from the procurement of materials such as iron sand and charcoal to the shipment of iron products.

The new facility features a 2 meter long and 2.6 meter wide model of the underground iron furnace structure. A video introducing the work area is also shown.

Entrance is free.

“The exhibition showcases the latest technology of the time, such as using clay pipes for the holes to release underground moisture,” said an official from the Izumo city government.

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