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On San’in Monogatari: Some great historical background on tatara (iron bellows) and why it was such a big deal that they were run by women in Mononoke-hime:

San'in Monogatari

Have you ever heard of Tatara?

If you’re like me, the first thing that pops into your head is one of the 28 Chinese mansion constellations (婁), but if you’re more interested in iron working, steel working, and Japanese swords, perhaps you already know this as foot-operated bellows used in the firey production of these materials (踏鞴, though usually written phonetically as たたら).

It’s such a crucial part of this region’s history, however, that I’ve learned a thing or two–though lacking any craftsmanship sense, my knowledge is still limited. Here’s a basic introduce so as to introduce one of the local deities.

Tatara was likely imported into Japan from Korea by way of Shimane Prefecture, and seeing as the San’in region is rich with titanium magnetite, a necessary ingrediant for iron production, it took hold here very early on in Japanese history. Way back in ancient Japan–specifically 713ad, two…

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