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Yasugi Specialty Steel and Tatara

Yasukuni tatara and the Wako Commemorative Hall

With the outbreak of the Manchurian Incident in 1931, Japan started its rush to the quagmire of war. Demand for steel grew rapidly, and the factories followed a course of further expansion, but oversight by the military grew ever more severe. The Association of Japanese Sword Forgers was established in 1933, and in response to requests for the manufacturing of the tama-hagane that is the primary material used in Japanese swords Yasugi Steelworks erected the Yasukuni tatara at Torigami (upstream on the Hi'i River). Production of tama-hagane would continue at the Yasukuni tatara until the end of the war in 1945.

Yasugi Steelworks merged with Tobata Foundries in 1934, changed its name to National Production Corporation in 1935, and in 1937 merged with Hitachi, Ltd.

In 1941, as part of the commemoration at the time of the 2,600th anniversary of the legendary founding of Japan's imperial line, the company made plans to build a museum of Japanese steel with the goal of passing down the technology to future generations. Collection of materials for the museum also began. However, the completion and opening of the museum did not take place until June 1946. The establishment, which formally functioned as the Museum at the Hitachi Ltd. Yasugi Works, was named the Wako (“Japanese steel”) Commemorative Hall by Professor Kuniichi Tawara of Tokyo Imperial University. In 1956, the steel division of Hitachi, Ltd. was split off to form Hitachi Metals, while at the same time the Wako Commemorative became the Museum at the Hitachi Metals Yasugi Works. It continued to collect and preserve precious materials related to Japanese steel, and as a corporate museum handed down information about Japanese steel and its technology to thousands of people.

Wako Commemorative Hall

In 1993, Hitachi Metals transferred administration of the Wako Commemorative Hall to the city of Yasugi along with the museum's collection. Its inheritor continues today as the Wako Museum. The 250 tools used in tatara iron manufacturing collected by the museum of have been designated Important Tangible Cultural Assets by the national government.

Wako Museum

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