Okuizumo Tatara Sword Museum 奥出雲たたらと刀剣館
Learn how a Japanese sword is made and see the collection of blades on display
An authentic Japanese sword begins with tamahagane, a type of steel that can only be produced in a traditional type of forge known as tatara. For centuries, the Okuizumo area exported tamahagane to swordsmiths all over Japan and is now the only source of this rare material that is vital to Japanese swordsmiths.
Visit the Okuizumo Tatara Sword Museum to understand this traditional craft that was introduced from the mainland and developed uniquely in Japan.
How to Get There
The museum is just a 15-minute walk from Izumo Yokota Station on the JR Kisuki Line.
The cycle of Earth's blessings
In Okuizumo, iron sand has been taken from the plateau since ancient times; trees in the mountains have been burned to make charcoal, and clay furnaces have been heated to produce iron.
Tatara iron has been made by taking raw materials from the mountains. Although tatara iron manufacturing uses a large amount of raw materials, the people of Okuizumo have been making iron for more than 1,000 years while preserving the natural environment, rather than exploiting the resources of the Earth. The land where iron sand was extracted was used for rice paddies, and the forests of the mountains regrew their trees after being left alone for 30 years.
Twice a month you can join a master swordsmith and his team in the small modern shop and see some tamahagane being worked. In this remote region, there will be no large crowds and many members of the small audience are invited to pick up a hammer and take part in shaping a piece of red-hot tamahagane.
Nearby, and not open to the public, is the only forge in Japan that produces the tamahagane for all Japanese swordsmiths. It is believed to be the inspiration for Irontown, one of the settings in the Hayao Miyazaki animation blockbuster Princess Mononoke.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.