Glimpse of Designated important cultural landscapes in Okuizumo



重要文化的景観申出者  奥出雲町長
Applicant :  Okuizumo  Town  Mayor

重要文化景観の名称 :
The name of Designated Important Cultural Landscapes in Okuizumo

「 Okuizumo  Tatara  seitetu  oyobi Tanada no Bunkateki  Keikan 」
Cultural landscapes of Tatara steel making and Terraced paddies in OKuizumo

文化的景観の種類 選定基準2 以下の複合景観地
The selection of Cultural landscape
Selection Criteria2 combination of two or more cultural landscapes as follows

Associated with agriculture such as rice paddies, farmland,etc

Associated with forest use such as timber forests ,disaster prevention forests,etc

Associated with reservoirs,waterways,harbors,etc

Associated with mining or industrial manufacture such as mines , quarries, groups of workshops , etc

"Associated with residences and settlements such as stone walls hedges,coppices  attached  to premises

according to the order of Education Scientific Ministry

 所在地:島根県仁多郡奥出雲町上阿井、同竹崎、同大呂、同中村、同大谷 同大馬木の各一部
Important Cutural landscapes Designated Places:
 Part of Kamiai ,Takesaki, 00ro ,Nakamura ,OOtani, these 7 villages in Okuizumo Town , Nitagun , Shimane Prefecture.

Important Cultural Landscapes Designated Total Area: 1,563.3ha


Procedure and Process of Application

Heisei 22 years( 2010 )

  • 町政座談会において各自治会から奥出雲町の有力鉄師であったト蔵家の調査研究やたたら関連遺跡の整備、鉄穴残丘が残る地域について保存・活用を検討するよう意見がだされた。
    At the town meeting held by the town office in Yokota, opinions to investigate the Tatara master Bokura family’s history and relics for utilization and preservation were proposed by the residents.

  • これに対して、本町のたたら製鉄の価値について総合的に再評価・検証するためのプレ調査を実施することになった。この調査により、町内に所在する製鉄遺構をはじめ、たたら製鉄所産の文化遺産を洗い出し、文化財保護法に規定する文化的景観の定義により広範囲におよぶ、たたら製鉄の文化遺産の再評価を行った。
    Okuizumo town office began an investigation for revaluing and reaffirming the Tatara steel making according to the basic standard criteria of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. Town office revalued Tatara heritage and properties.

  • 文化的景観の保存活動の取組として、近年高まりを見せる町民の景観保全意識から、奥出雲町は平成22年10月1日付けにて景観行政団体に移行した。
    Under the Landscape Law, the whole Okuizumo town area was named as the landscape district by the Shimane prefectural government in Heisei 22 years (2010)

Heisei 23years

  • 奥出雲町景観計画の策定(平成24年4月1日、奥出雲町景観条例が施行)をした。
    Under the Landscapes Law , "the ordinace of Okuizumo Town landscape" was approved by town assembly in Heisei 24 years(2012).
    Okuizumo Town landscape's Conservation Planning was established.

  • たたら製鉄を背景とする文化的景観の価値について、奥出雲町文化的景観調査検討委員会を設置し、学術調査を行い、『奥出雲町文化的景観調査報告書』をまとめた。(平成23年度~24年度の2か年)
    The committee ,it consisted of 10 members for surveying the value and component of cultural landscapes in Okuizumo ,they compiled the report of the survey for cultural landscapeing in Okuizumo (in Heisei 23 ~24years ).

Heisei 24years

  • 選定申出地域に係る重要文化的景観区域の保存管理に関わる『奥出雲町文化的景観保存計画』を策定した。
    The Cultural Landscapes Preservaton Plan , concerning the proposed 7 area, was established.

  • 重要文化的景観の申出範囲の対象住民に対して合意形成(同意書)を実施した。
    Getting the contents from the residents who were associated with the application.

Heisei 25years

  • 重要文化的景観の申出に必要な関係書類を整え、平成25年7月に文部科学大臣あて、申出書を提出した。
    Final application forms for Designation Important Cultural Landscapes in Okuizumo was submitted to the Ministry of Education(MEXT) in July Heisei 25years.

Preservation of Cultural landscapes in Okuizumo

“Izumo no kuni Fudoki” , Province records compilation was ordered by Empress Genmei in 713 , completed in Ten-pyou 5 years (in 733 ) wrote “ Steel products in Mitokoro, Fuse ,Mizawa and Yokota villages were good enough to make any iron goods”at Nita/Okuizumo chapter .

This description indicates that steel production had been prosperous and had produced highest quality of steel since ancient times in Okuizumo .
Okuizumo is the only place in the world that the Tatara craft is designated as Conservation Techniques for Cultural Properties under the Law. It is still in operation now at Ni-tto-ho Tatara furanace in Torikami village.

From a historical point of view, Okuizumo area has been a central place for steel making in Japan and has had Steelmaking Tatara techniques handed down for many generations.

In the Edo era, Matue han/the Matue domain (associated with Izumo province ) by its new restriction policy , admitted only 10 Tatara owners (enterprisers) including the Sakurai family , Itohara family , Bokura family in Okuizumo to manage Tatara steel making.
Nowadays Sakurai houses are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan . Itohara houses are selected as Registered Tangible Cultural properties.
Those houses serve as a remainder of the livelihood of the old age “Tessi- todori”, Head of Tatara ownwrs union in  Matue han .


The Chugoku mountain north-face ranges that contain high quality magnetite iron sand, the way of gatheing iron sand called “ Kanna - nagashi“, screening collection by flowing water, by which iron sands sank to the bottom of the waterway and were easily collected .
Due to the way of Kanna- nagashi, the eroded mountain area was converted to terraced rice fields where the good taste of Okuizumo Nita rice was cultivated.
It is well known as an expensive , high quality brand of rice in Japan.
Furthermore , the trees that had grown up in the forests and were burned to charcoal for Tatara fuel were cut in a 30 year cycle in order to avoid destroying the forest’s regrowing cycle .

As for the cultural landscapes in Okuizumo , they were the kind of landscapes which evolved together with Tatara steel making history and with the recycling process for the natural features of a moutain mine .
“Kanna - yokote” ,a water way dug around the base of a moutain , and “ Kanna zan-kyu” ,left over mounds in the fields, are scattered throughout the paddy fields.
They represents specific features and creates special views of these important cultural landscapes in Okuizumo .

With regards to cultural landscapes in Okuizumo today , Kanna- Yokote water ways are used as rice crop water ways as well .
The basic function from the old days has been preserved.
Graves and shrine forests preserved as hill places of Kanna- zankyuu created by “kan na - nagashi” have been kept in good condition , too.


Residential neighborhood units continue not only to serve as road repairing and beautifying village surroundings, but also keep traditional rituals ,festivities, house management and so on.
With this cooperation there are few abandoned paddy fields here in comparison to other places around Japan.

Moreover, in Okuizumo town all 9 elementary schools hold Tatara studying curriculum for 5th grade pupils.
They experience charcoal making, kanna-nagashi, and smelting iron sand into steel in the special small scale Tatara furnace .
For these elementary school chidren ,field studying deepens their knowledge about Tatara and grows their loves for their homeland’s culture and history.

The above mentioned deeds have kept cultural landscapes preserved in good condition as well as Okuizumo resident’s traditions and customs .

Special features in Okuizumo Cultural landscapes (Background)

Okuizumo town is located south-east in Shimane prefecture and situated on borders between Hiroshima prefecture and Tottori prefecture, facing the north side of the Chugoku mountains .
In Okuizumo, the beauty of nature has been preserved since ancient times with the surrounding mountains changing their colors throughout the four seasons.

This has been the Tatara steel making place as well as the gathering place for its materials, such as gathering iron sand and burning wood into charcoal, since the ancient Fudoki period .
Especially from the Edo period to the Meiji era, the Okuizumo area had occupied the main role of steel making in Japan .
In these terms , Okuizumo’s topographical features owe much to the way of gathering iron sand, called Kanna- nagashi.
It had cut into the mountains deeply, changing the whole landscape .

On the other hand , Tatara fuel charcoals made from forest wood spreading throughout the back of the Chugoku mountains , have been cut with a 30 years regrowing cycles.
Whenever we go into the mountains ,we can see and find charcoal clamp relics scattered around .

The main industry in Okuizumo has been agriculture.
This land reclaiming process depends on the Tatara way of kanna-nagashi. It is kanna-nagasi that contributed to the development of agricultural farm lands .
About one third more terracial paddies in Yokota, Okuizumo would have been created by kannna-nagashi .
This rate does not include the way of reclaiming the paddy fields uncertain .
From this viewpoint, we can say that almost all farm land had been created by kanna-nagashi.

The specifics of cultural landscapes in Okuizumo , terracial paddy fields formed by kanna-nagashi, historically depend on Tatara .
Furthermore , the natural features of rich mountain woods as well as the geological feature of weathering granites containing iron sand, had been used as Tatara materials.

Here , cultural landscapes consist of Tatara steel master ,Tessi to- dori, living house and furanace factory,
they are designated and registered national properties , and workers condominiums , called San-nai .
Furthermore, the relics of Torikami charcoal pig-iron making factory,Torikami mokutan zuku kou-jyou, are named as a registered national property.

Natural Features in Okuizumo and Tatara Steel Making

Mountain Sentu remains the northern dividing place of the main Chugoku mountain ranges , which run through the center of Chugokuku districts .
It was well-known as a mythological battle place “Yamata- no- orochi taiji”, 8-headed big snake conquest story, written in mytho-historical documents, the Nihon-shoki and the Kojiki .
The god “ Susano” conquered “Yamata no orochi” an 8- head serpant by intoxicating it with sake.
After killing Yamata-no- orochi he found the holy sword “Ame no murakumo no Tsurugi” in snake’s tail which was dedicated to the God “Amaterasu”and later became one of the three regalia of the imperial household .
This mythological Hii river, originates from here, Mt. Sentu, and flows east converging many streams .

According to the geological point of view , most mother rocks in the mountains here have vast granite layers which contain pure iron sand with little unpure materials ,such as chitan, etc.
The gathering of iron sand through kan na nagashi has been done for a long times and massive abundant forest wood was used to make charcoals for Tatara fuel.

The surrounding mountains supply of not only rich natural resources of iron sand but also charcoal have contributed to Tatara steel smelting’s useful role of being a great production place in Japan.

Tatara Steel making History and Okuizumo

Nita district’s high quality of steel in Izumo no kuni Fudoki owes much to natural environments here in Okuizumo .
During the Sengoku battle period(1467~1603),the controller of the Chugoku region Daimyo Mori clan appointed a special administrator here for the rule of steel production.

All the beginning of the Edo period(1603 ~1868), the Matsue Daimyo Horio Clan moved their headquarter castle from Hirose to Matsue.
Here, the Hii river flows into Lake Shinji .
Horio prohibited Kanna- nagashi in Kei-cho 15years( 1611 ) for the purpose of preventing flooding.
The main reason for the flood was the Hii River’s raised floor height by kanna- nagashi sand’s accumulation.

Despite the begging by steel production  enterpriser “Tessi” union , Horio did not permit the Kanna- nagashi at all.
Daimyo  Kyougoku Clan who appointed by Tokugawa Shogun as a successor , permitted it finally.
Kyougoku permitted Kan na nagasi in Kan-ei 13years (1636), stopping after 25 years . By restarting kanna- nagashi, about ten Tatara furnaces arose in here Okuizumo .
The steel smelting fire flame was seen vividly.

Kyouho 11years ( 1726 ), Matsue han (domain) Daimyo Matsudaira issued an edict, “Tetsu kata go houshiki”,the rule of steel making , and gave the privilege of making Tatara steel to only 10 Tatara masters , enterprisers, such as Itohara family, Sakurai family Bokura family in Okuizumo , and Tanabe family in Unnan .
The limiting of 10 owners to Tatara furnace construction was due to the stable steel supply and production, policy .

However Tatara steel production had declined because of mass production techniques and cheaper imported steel pressure during the middle Meiji period.
As a result , Tatara steel smelting extinguished its fire at the end of the Taisho era , in 1924.

The declining of old style Tatara gave way to a mass production industry.
Metallurgist Obana Fuyukichi invented “ Kakuro”, High Square Furnace , in Hiroshima and constructed it many places in Japan.
It used materials of iron sand and coal capable of two or three times productivity compared to the traditional Tatara furnace.
This type of Kakuro, used lateset until Shouwa 40 years (1960) in Torikami village , this Square Furnace was named a registered national property in Heisei 9years (1997) .

In the Shouwa period , 1926 to 1689, especially during the World War 【2】, 1931 to 1945 , there had been such strong demands for military swords that the association “ Nihontou - Touren -kai “ was built in Shouwa 8 years (1933) supported by the  Military Ministry.
Japanese swords had been made only by using “Tamahagane “ materials produced by Tatara smelting skills , so Nihontou- tanren- kai had Yasukuni Tatara built in Shouwa 8 years(1933).
It remodeled the steel master  Bokura’s furanace in Torikami village , which  had been operated until the end of the war (1945), when it closed its operation.
Concerning the Japanese sword , after ceased operations of Tatara brought about a lack of Tamahagane.
In Shouwa 53 years (1977), the Society for preservation of Japanese Swords , Nihon-bijyututou- toren- kai(Nittou-ho) , with the support of the government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, rebuilt the Nitto- ho Tatara furnace into operation, in response to the scarcity of Tamahagane material for Japanese swords.


In this way Okuizumo Town has progressed with Tatara steel making , so that historical buildings , relics and terracial paddies reclaimed by kanna-nagashi, all associated with Tatara , have created special cultural landscapes in Okuizumo.

Okuizumo Nita Rice Nourished by Tatara Kanna-nagashi

Chougoku mountain mines abundant in ironsands were well known for the topographical change brought by the Tatara kannna- nagashi . Especially in the Okuizumo Town area , its historical relics were left here and there.

Concerning mining in the world in general, closing mines had left bad effects such as erosion ,contamination , and unworthy land use .However , the kanna- nagashi way had changed land into worthy rice crop fields .
Furthermore , Kanna - yokote , which was used well as a waterway and reservoir ponds in the old days , has continued its use today , just as it was before.

Yokota area’s paddy fields are 1,639 square ha , of which about one third (32.6%) 535 ha of the fields were reclaimed by the kannna- nagashi.
These rates do not include the fields of which reclaiming way was uncertain.
So including these places it is not too much to say that Okuizumo town’s fundamental agricultural fields had been formed by the Tatara Kanna- nagashi .

These terraced paddy fields in Okuizumo reclaimed after iron sand digging, were not to be seen in the world .
These have been cultivated and nourished by natural Japanese environmental elements and climates.
These cultural historical aspects not only show a recycling natural process but also the cooperation of natural elements .

Now , kanna- zankyuu , left mounds , which were the historical relics of the kanna -nagashi ironsand gathering way , were left to prevent eroding : such as graves and kanna- yokote ,water way, were scattered around the foot of the mountains and in the fields.
This extending scenery with a mountainous background reminds us of the prosperous old times of Tatara mining .
It breathes by reflecting the Tatara livelihood of old times into the important cultural landscapes of today.



    役場 教育魅力課