History of Miki hardware

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Excellent technique and craftsmanship backed by tradition

Banshu Miki has long been known as a blacksmith town,
and in the background of many legends and history.
It has prospered as the oldest blacksmithing town in Japan.

Colored by legend

Once upon a time, there is a story that Empress Jingu went on an expedition to the Korean Peninsula, helped Kudara Province, and fought against Shiragi. There are many stories related to this in rural areas, and Miki City is no exception. Empress Jingu was on the way to the expedition, When I was taken a break around Kimigamine in Miki City, and the local people gave them the sake they put in the pot. It is said that the empress who ate alcohol became very praised, so she came to be called Miki, and this became Miki's place name.

Also, after the war, many Koreans were brought back, and it is a legend that living in Miki and doing blacksmithing was the beginning as a hardware town.

Blend with Korean forging skills

Also, since the Harima region was a point of contact between the Yamato people and the Izumo people long ago, Tenme Ichikamei (Amenomahitotsunomikoto) lived in Harima and became the ancestor of Yamato smithing. There is also a tradition that Kanayamahikonomikoto was also moved to Izumo after being descended to Harima no Kuni. Since the Harima region has been active in iron making and blacksmithing for a long time, it seems that such a story was conveyed.

According to history, along with Prince Megumi of King Seimei of Kudara, the naturalized people added the wonderful technique of Korean blacksmith to Yamato blacksmith, and the foundation of the blacksmith town Miki was completed.

Prosperity of forging and wholesale dealers

Collection of Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum

Along with blacksmithing, the skill of carpenters is also excellent, and the carpenter in this region called Hihara carpenter has been working on national treasure-class buildings since the Nara and Heian dynasties, but on the other hand, many fine temples were built in the Miki region. Unfortunately, Hideyoshi attacked Miki Castle and burned down the footprints of culture in these temples and the old streets. There is too much to regret.

However, Hideyoshi left a great achievement for Miki after that, which became the starting point of new Miki making, and it can be said that Miki, a hardware town, has been cultivated in earnest from this time.

Hideyoshi, who attacked Miki Castle by Bessho Nagaharu, initially thought that he would take root in this area, and raised the regulation of a bill one after another, so people returned to the town again and the reconstruction progressed remarkably.

Carpenters from all over the world gathered to restore the burnt temples and houses, and more blacksmiths made the carpentry tools they needed, which provided a foothold for the current development.

Also, after the war, it is said that many Koreans were brought back to Miki, where they settled in and blacksmithed, which was the beginning of the town of hardware.

The birth of a blacksmith and a wholesaler

When the reconstruction of the town was over, carpenters ended up migrants, but what went out and became popular was the carpentry tools they brought. I was proud of Miki hardware with a high nose, and when I went next time, I took the goods and sold them, and on the other hand, I got information on excellent carpentry tools in various places to help improve manufacturing technology.

In the 19th century of the latter half of the Edo period, in addition to saws, planes and chisels, there were many production items such as kitchen knives, shaving blades, scissors, A carpenter's square, file, and so on.

When blacksmithing develops in this way, sales can't keep up if you rely only on migrant carpenters. During the 1751 to 1764, a broker who purchased materials and sold products was born. Around this time, there were colleagues who purchased some of the raw materials from Osaka, and it was taken to offset the price with the product, or the broker gave the material to the blacksmith and paid the labor.

Brokers eventually grow up and develop into brokerage wholesalers, but according to the Nakama 1792, five houses such as "Sakuya" form brokerage friends and handle carpentry tools, household knives, field tools, etc. On the other hand, even blacksmiths are working to protect the same industry by craftsmen such as saws and shaving blades by organizing their friends under the name of Inariko and Monjuko.

Miki hardware was developed by merchants in Osaka at first and made the area centered on Osaka a market, but in 1803, Shichiemon Sumiya, a charcoal shop in Edo (currently a hardware trading company), in which started trading in the following year. In this way, when direct transactions with Edo began, brokers rapidly accumulated capital and incorporated blacksmith friends who had had the advantage so far under the ruling series. This became the basic form of production and distribution after that.

From the Meiji Restoration to the present

The Meiji Restoration, the dawn of Japan, brought fragmentation of many of the feudal systems of Edo era's rule and Japan began to step into a new market economy.

A big change in Miki's hardware was brought by  Western iron and steel that began to be imported around 1880. These materials made it possible to reduce manufacturing time, which started mass production. There were not enough brokers in Tokyo and Osaka to sell these masses, therefore, salesmen flourished. Both development of traffic networking increased ability to transport goods, such as Miki hardware contributed to building up today's nation-wide sales network.

Though we suffered the Great Depression that lasted from the end of the Taisho era through early in the Showa era, we made every effort to overcome it. At the time, new modernized factories equipped with belted hammers, air hammers, and grinders have increased in number. At the same time, after the Manchurian Incident (occurred in 1931) we developed new markets such as Korea, Manchuria (an old Japanese colony), China, and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, during the reconstruction period of the ruins after the war, the great demand for hardware tools surged.

Retailers all over Japan rushed into Miki City. Taking advantage of this momentum, major manufacturers came to big factories. These manufacturers organized local wholesalers and adopted agent sales methods as well as new trades with wholesalers in distribution centers like Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the number of local wholesalers had increased three times as much as that of prewar day, which became a new organization known as "All Miki Hardware Dealers Cooperative Society".

New features of the postwar era hardware are as follows: development of power tools, the birth of new tools which apply to new materials of Western style buildings, advancement in central industries like farming implements (tiller edges reapers, and binder edges), saws for cutting trees; new tools for DIY and gardening use were also invented to correspond with a new life style. Remarkable growth for these newly developed industries could be put out into markets, thanks to huge numbers of DIY shops and supermarkets scattered all over Japan.