the history of miki hardware

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The history of Miki hardware

Starting with technical exchange

Miki city in Hyogo Prefecture is recognized as the very first city of hardware in Japan.Its origin dates back to 1500 years ago,aroud the mid-5th century.The mythological god of metalsmith,Amanohitotsume No Mikoto started Yamato smithing in East Harima,and his descendants began the work of smithing in Miki.When Empress Jingu brought Korean blacksmiths to Miki, the blacksmith technique greatly advanced and the town developed as the city of hardware.Miki cithy also has good carpentry techniques from the old days.Carpenters from this area are called Hihara carpenters,and they built architectures including temples in Nara and Heian Era(710-1185) which are considered precious and magnificent like national treasures.

Miki and Hideyoshi

Miki city started thriving as the city of metal tools after fierce battle between Nagaharu Bessho and Hideyoshi Hashiba(later, he was called Hideyoshi Toyotomi) in 1578. Nagaharu Bessho was the lord of Miki.The battle continued for two years, and with food becoming scarce, Bessho lost the battle. Feeling responsible for the loss of the battle and hoping for the safety on his people in Miki ,Bessho killed himself. This is how the long battle finally ended. Houses and temples were burnt down, but not Miki castle.Hideyoshi thought about using Miki castle as a base for his next battle in Chugoku region, and he was committed to rebuild the town around it. Hideyoshi offfered tax exemption, and he was able to attract people to come back to the town of Miki. Carpenters from all over Japan came to Miki to rebuild the town. As number of carpenters increased,number of blacksmiths making carpentry tools also increased. Afte restoration of Miki, these carpenters went outside the town looking for more work. Their tools were well receiverd even outside Miki, and carpenters started selling carpentry tools. As they traveled outside town, they got new information on carpentry tools and were successful in improving tool production techniques.

Traditions and Modern Technologies

In the early years, majority of handmade metal tools were handsaws, hand planes, and chisels. By the time atround the end of Edo Era, in the 19th century, other types of hardware such as kitchen knives, razora,and scissors were sloeing starting to be made by these blacksmiths. Up until this time, blacksmiths depended mainly on carpenters traveling outside Miki for the sales of their tools. However as smithing prospered, they were in need of more people to sell their tools in different places. During Horeki(1751 to 1764), brokers started new business by getting the raw material and seling the finished products. These brokers later became wholesalers.
Western iron and steel made a great impact on Miki hardware around 1880. This is the time of the period when they were able to make their production process more efficient and produce tools in larger quantities. Due to these changes,the number of wholesalers in Tokyo and Osaka was not enough to meet the increasing number of items they had to be sold, and gradually they traveled to other places to sell more products.With advancements in transportation, they were successful in increasing sales all around Japan. As a city that produces and sellshardware in wide areas,Miki city was certified "Miki Kanamono" regional trademark from Japan Patent Office in February 2008.
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