Roji Associates "Nambu Ironware"
Roji Associates is a young Nambu ironware manufacturer located in Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture. It was founded by artist Hisao Iwashimizu and his brother in 2000, to create and showcase the simplistic beauty of Japanese kettles.
The manufacturer's ironware pieces are characterized by its unique designs and vibrant colors. It brings innovation and modern sensibilities to a traditional handicraft.
About Nambu Ironware
Nambu ironware refers to iron castings made in Iwate Prefecture's Morioka and Oshu cities starting from around the Heian period (c. 794-1185). Iron casting is a technique in which molten iron is poured into a mold to create a shape. Products made from castings include kettles, teapots, pots and pans, and other daily utensils.
Nambu ironware is resistant to rust, evenly distributes heat, and has excellent heat retention properties. The weight and stability of the ironware, combined with its rugged texture, give it a charming, rustic beauty.
A typical Nambu ironware pattern is "Arare" (hailstone)–a row of small, bumpy protrusions on the ironware's exterior that adds a three-dimensional effect. These protrusions are hand-applied by seasoned craftsmen.
Roji Associate's Artistry and Design
Roji Associates' Nambu ironware stands out due to its gently-curved shape and vividly-colored exterior. From cherry blossom pink to "shikon" (blueish purple), the ironware is painted in a range of Japanese pigments. What's more, in addition to the traditional Arare pattern, there are playful pieces that incorporate butterfly and chrysanthemum motifs.
Hisao Iwashimizu is one of Roji Associate's founders and an ironware artist. He believes that Japanese crafts typically hold either of the following: an extravagant beauty representative of Kyoto or an extreme simplicity influenced by tea master Sen no Rikyu (c. 1522-91). Roji Associates aims for the latter. "Roji" in Japanese means "the path leading to the tea house." The works produced by this manufacturer retain the traditional robustness of Nambu ironware while implementing innovative designs.
In 2000, MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art in New York), chose to place Roji Associate's Nambu ironware in its museum shop. This indicated that the fusion of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and contemporary designs was admired overseas. Roji Associates is a leader when it comes to forging a path for the future of Nambu ironware.