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Shimane’s Ancient Tatara Ironworks

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Shimane’s Ancient Tatara Ironworks


History comes to life with samurai sword making and sword cutting demonstrations

San’in Tourism Organization



The “Iron Road Cultural Area,” consisting of Yasugi City, Okuizumo Town, and Unnan City in Shimane Prefecture, is the only place in the world where the flame of the tatara, a traditional iron-smelting furnace, continues to burn. The ancient Japanese tatara method of steel manufacturing, using iron sand and charcoal, has been preserved in Shimane for over 1,000 years. These tatara ironworks produce fine steel called tamahagane that is used as a raw material for Japanese swords.


The region’s iron industry was a sustainable one; the mountains excavated for iron sand and iron ore were turned into rice fields, and the charcoal that fueled the furnace was made from trees whose land was reforested. The steelmaking techniques have been passed down, but there is no mining of iron sand anymore, and this area has become a beautiful farming village of rice fields surrounded by forests.


Visit Okuizumo Tatara and Sword Museum, where parts of the tatara steelmaking process have been reconstructed, and you can watch samurai sword making and sword cutting demonstrations. You can even pose for a photo with a real katana (Japanese sword).


How to get there

From Haneda Airport, take a flight to Izumo Airport (about 1 hour). The Iron Road Cultural Area is about a 1-hour drive from Izumo Airport.


1380-1 Yokota, Okuizumo-cho, Nita-gun, Shimane-ken


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