Osaka Naniwa tinware is a traditional Japanese craft originating in the city of Osaka. Known for its high thermal conductivity and ability to purify water, it is available today in all shapes and sizes, including drinking sets, vases, plates, stationery, and more, leading to its timeless popularity. In this article, we’ll introduce and discuss this nationally recognized traditional Osakan craft alongside its fascinating history and characteristics.
The History of Osaka Naniwa Tinware
Osaka Naniwa tinware is a type of metalcraft produced in the city of Osaka, which is often referred to as Japan’s second capital.
Tinware itself first appeared in Japan about 1,300 years ago. A number of tin medicine jars, plates, and other wares from when tin was considered a precious metal like gold and silver can be found in Nara Prefecture’s Shosoin Repository, which was built during the Asuka Period (592 – 710) and holds a number of historical items dating back to the 8th century. The Jinrinkinmozui, a 1690 vocational dictionary, mentions that there were tinsmiths living in the Kansai region, primarily around Kyoto, at the time.
Tinware was first produced in Osaka during the mid-Edo period (1681 – 1780). A 1679 source confirms the existence of tinware manufacturing in areas around Osaka and Kyoto like Shinsaibashi, Tenjinbashi, and Tennoji.
Characteristics of Osaka Naniwa Tinware
Osaka Naniwa tinware is known for its ability to absorb impurities from water. It is also celebrated for its high thermal conductivity, which ensures that drinks continue to taste good. As tin is more malleable than other metals, tinware is extremely difficult to machine-produce, requiring artisans to make tin products individually by hand. Tin is also rust-resistant, allowing it to stand the test of time while continuing to keep drinks sanitary by suppressing bacteria reproduction.
As seen above, the little dents in these tin beer tumblers are all done by hand to help keep the beer frothy for longer.
Since tinware is mostly made by hand, one can feel a certain warmth born from the passion and dedication that went into each piece. While tin tableware is easy to dent, it’s almost impossible to break, and fixing blemishes is as easy as gently hammering from the inside.
Osaka Naniwa Tinware Today
Osaka Naniwa tinware is available today in all shapes and sizes, including drinking sets, vases, chopstick rests, plates, stationery, and more. Its soft quality allows many products to be engraved, making them a fantastic personalized gift. There is also Osaka Naniwa tinware decorated with lacquer, combining the functionality of tin with the elegance of lacquerware.
The high versatility combined with talented artistry has led to a stellar variety of tin products available on the market, with new ones popping up all the time!
MUG BERG LARGE | OSAKA NANIWA PEWTER WARE
This product is the previously introduced Osaka Naniwa beer mug. Unlike similar products, this mug serves to keep beer smooth and frothy for longer, making it taste significantly better. This is thanks to the rough molecular structure of tin, which also helps to absorb impurities from liquids. Tin is also 50 times more thermally conductive than porcelain, making hot things hotter and cool things, like beer, even cooler.
SAKE SET PESIBLE | OSAKA NANIWA PEWTER WARE
This product is an Osaka Naniwa drinking set. Along with beer and water, tin also serves to purify other liquids like Japanese sake, transforming its taste to become more mellow and well rounded. While the high thermal conductivity of tin makes it unsuitable for atsukan (hot sake) or nurukan (lukewarm sake), it is instead perfectly suited towards making and serving chilled sake, giving it an even cooler, smoother, and richer taste.
JAPANESE TEA SET IBUSHI THREE SETS | OSAKA NANIWA PEWTER WARE
This is an Osaka Naniwa tinware three-piece Japanese tea set consisting of a tea canister, Japanese-style kettle, and saucers to pair with a teacup. The name of the set, IBUSHI, comes from the Japanese word “ibusu,” meaning “to smoke,” which in metalcraft often refers to the process of blackening metal by smoking it with sulfur. This technique is said to bring out a deeper, more nuanced texture.
TSUGARU FINISH FINE GRAIN SURFACE RED | OSAKA NANIWA PEWTER WARE
If you’re looking for a tumbler that’s a cut above the rest, then we highly recommend this tin cup adorned with Tsugaru lacquerware, a traditional Japanese craft from Aomori. As the tumbler’s eye-catching color gradation effect demands a hefty amount of time and skill to perfect, once this product sells out, it may take another 2-6 months before more become available. This is the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone in your life!
WAJIMA FINISH JUJUBE DRAGONFLY LACQUER WORK | OSAKA NANIWA PEWTER WARE
This “natsume” (tea caddy used to store powdered matcha tea) is made from tin adorned with gorgeous Wajima lacquerware, a traditional Japanese craft from Ishikawa Prefecture in the Hokuriku region. The container is decorated with dragonflies, which have long been considered good-luck symbols symbolizing victory and economic fortune in Japan. The design itself is tasteful and modest, making it ideal for recreating an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.
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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer’s website for more information.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.