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The best of Tohoku in Tokyo! Part 1

The best of Tohoku in Tokyo! Japan's northeast is known for its natural beauty and excellent food. On the next two editions of Tokyo Eye we take a look at some great places in Tokyo where you can enjoy the best of Tohoku.
Our topic this time is appreciating the arts and crafts of Tohoku.

Nanbu ware Restaurant in Shibuya

Jennifer has come to a restaurant, about a ten minute walk from Shibuya Station.

Most of the dishes here are prepared in traditional cookware from the Tohoku region. Called "Nanbu cast iron ware", the cookware is made in Iwate Prefecture.

Nanbu ware is made of thick cast iron that transmits heat very evenly. The finely textured surface also helps prevent burnt food from sticking.

Nanbu ware shop in Setagaya

A lot of Nanbu ware comes from Morioka, where high-quality iron sand was used to make iron and steel for centuries.

In the Edo period, the Nanbu iron kettle was developed, and Nanbu ware's reputation spread across Japan.

Recently, colorful Nanbu ware tea pots have gained popularity abroad, especially in France.

Akita style kokeshi dolls in Hachioji

Traditional toys can be found all over Japan.

The Tohoku region is known for unique wooden dolls called kokeshi, which are made by working a piece of wood on a lathe.

Kokeshi dolls have a simple form, with only a body and head. No arms or legs are attached.

Minyo Bar in Itabashi

Adam is off to a bar in Itabashi where the customers enjoy Japanese folk songs called "minyo".

During the day, there are classes in folk singing and playing the shamisen. The students are people of all ages.

These folk songs emerged from everyday life in regional Japan, and were passed down as an oral tradition. Minyo were sung while working and on festive occasions. Each region has its own repertoire. In the Tohoku region, minyo singing still flourishes.

Minyo Bar in Itabashi 2

7 PM, and things are bustling. Most of the customers are from Tohoku.

The evening's performances begin with a rendition of a festival song associated with one of Tohoku's "big three" festivals. It is thought to have originated as a song for laborers.

One after another, customers sing their favorite minyo tunes.