Modernization of Nambu Tekki
Morioka and Mizusawa had each flourished under the protection of the Morioka clan and Date clan; yet with the Meiji Restoration came the abolition of the han system, and deprived of the clans’ patronage, the local industries deteriorated. However, Nambu Tekki gradually revived itself by expanding its market, thanks to the development of distribution infrastructure such as the railroad. Participation in the National Industrial Exhibition backed by Meiji government’s policy to promote industrial growth, also allowed Nambu Tekki to regain national acclaim.
The late Meiji period brought some more years of stagnation. However, in 1914, the former head of the Morioka clan Toshiatsu Nambu, who was a cultured man with a passion for the arts, founded Nambu Casting Institute, with an aim to refine the quality of Nambu tetsubin. The first director of the institute was Somei Matsuhashi (1871-1922), who was born in Morioka and studied casting at the Tokyo Fine Arts School, as one of the first year students of the newly founded art school. A skilled craftsman, as well as a dedicated instructor, Matsuhashi promoted technological innovation of Nambu ironworks, raising its quality to the level of fine arts. The task was passed onto his successor, Manji Takahashi (1880-1942), who also contributed to the modernization of Nambu Tekki.