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Explore Tsubame-Sanjo, The Home Of Metalworking

The two quiet cities meet more than just the eye

Accessed within two hours by bullet train from Tokyo station, Niigata Prefecture’s Tsubame and Sanjo cities are famous for their metalworking, commanded by the region’s dedicated artisans.

The industry’s beginnings can be traced back to a time of the Edo period (1603-1867), when Wakugi (a Japanese-style nail) was first produced by its pioneering craftsmen. Fast forward to today, Tsubame-Sanjo continues to manufacture metal crafts of sorts, infusing traditional techinques such as using cutting tools under hot fires in hopes of keeping its origins of metalworking alive.

We witnessed some of the labour-intensive processes behind crafted items, tour through factories and revel in Japan’s natural bounty during our stay.

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Weld metal at Sanjo Blacksmith Training Hall

In a bid to keep traditional techniques alive, Sanjo Blacksmith Training Hall was conceived in 2005 to offer a range of hands-on blacksmithing courses, from metalworking lessons to sharpening knives. You’ll first hear the distant clangs of metal before greeted by dancing fires that blaze through makeshift bricks upon entering the facility. A fun activity to do there is welding a single steel nail into a katana-shaped letter opener. 

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