Yamagata Metal Casting
In the middle of the Heian period (794-1185), Minamoto Yoriyoshi fought a number of battles in the Yamagata area in an effort to quell various uprisings. The metal casters, who were part and parcel of the army and operations, discovered that the quality of the sand in the river flowing through Yamagata city and the earth in present-day Chitose park were ideal for casting. Some of those casters settled in the area and became the founders of Yamagata metal casting.
The tea ceremony is perhaps most representative of Japanese culture and many chagama, the pots for boiling water in during the tea ceremony are produced in Yamagata. The lightness, perfect shape and furthermore, the fine delicate surface of the iron kettles, the bronze vases, the iron cooking pots and ornaments cast here are the result of outstanding and well applied techniques used in the making of these traditional craft pieces.
Within the Sado tea-ceremony, an irreplaceable part of Japanese culture, the iron pot used to boil the tea water is often born in Yamagata prefecture. Iron kettles, copper kettles, iron pots, and ornaments, with an extremely thin surface, delicate finish and exacting shape all perfectly represent the traditional craft of Yamagata Imono metal casting.
How to make
First the overall design is decided, and then the metal cast which will form the outer shape is made from sand and pebbles taken from the Yamagata region. Then the inner and outer design of the piece is cut into a thin piece of Japanese washi paper, and used as a stencil to draw the inner and outer design onto the cast, the design is then carved into the cast. Next, the inner mold, which forms the inner space of the cast metal is set within the outer cast, and molten iron is poured into the finished cast. After the iron has set, the cast is opened, and the metal is removed, the surface is tempered, and then colored lacquer applied.