Satetsu Arare


A striking black and silver cast iron Tetsubin kettle made of rare and shiny Satetsu ironsand. This masterpiece of Nanbu Tekki ironware is decorated with a classic dotted Arare pattern and was created by the certified Traditional Craftsman, Saihō, in Iwate. Water boiled in a Tetsubin is fortified with iron, which helps to soften the water and make for a sweeter cup of green tea.
Product Nanbu Tekki Tetsubin kettle
Maker Saihō 齋峰 (Oikawa Sai), Seiryudo 成龍堂 foundry
Origin Mizusawa, Oshu, Iwate, Japan
Dimensions 22cm x 18cm x 24cm
Volume 1.8l
Weight 1.9kg
Material Ironsand (Satetsu), stainless steel (handle)
Decoration Arare (霰 "hail") pattern
Coating Natural Urushi lacquer
Stove type Electric, induction, gas
Artist's mark Seal beneath spout
Packaging Gift box


Each item is handmade and therefore may vary slightly.


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Saihō 齋峰

Born Oikawa Sai in 1935, Saihō has been making Tetsubin kettles since the age of seventeen, learning the craft from his father. In 1993 his exceptional Nanbu Tekki artistry earned him the Japanese government-certified Traditional Craftsman (伝統工芸士) status. Together with his son, Oikawa Kosei, they continue to keep the Japanese cast iron tradition alive at the Seiryudo foundry in Oshu.

Tetsubin 鉄瓶

Rustic and brimming with charm, the Japanese Tetsubin warms hearts as much as it does tea. This traditional cast iron kettle (“tetsu-bin” translates to “iron vessel”) is used to boil water during tea ceremonies, but equally in the home and for cooking. Uncoated on the inside, the iron mineralises and softens water, making it optimal for brewing green tea as this helps to lessen the astringency for a richer, sweeter brew. The origin of the Tetsubin is uncertain, however it most certainly is a development of the older spout- and handle-free Chagama (茶釜) “tea cauldron” that is heated atop a brazier or hearth. Since the Tetsubin is more portable, it is frequently used for outdoor tea ceremonies in place of the Chagama. Often elaborately decorated by hand with relief designs, Tetsubin also come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and finishes, making them a much coveted item amongst teaware collectors.

Nanbu Tekki 南部鉄器

The origins of Nanbu Tekki or “Nanbu ironware” go back to the mid-17th century, when the Nanbu samurai clan were in need of Buddhist altars, bells and Chagama tea pots to furnish their newly built castle in Morioka, Iwate prefecture, and so invited skilled metal casters from across the country to lend them a hand. Although the name Nanbu is written in the kanji as “southern region” they ruled in the north of Japan, where materials needed for ironwork were naturally abundant. Highly durable, Nanbu Tekki wares are often deemed the best metalwork in Japan and make beloved heirlooms – particularly cast iron tea kettles or Tetsubin, which are also highly sought after by collectors around the world. In 1975 Nanbu Tekki was designated the first government-certified Traditional Craft of Japan, and exclusively refers to cast iron products made in the cities of Morioka and Oshu.

Satetsu 砂鉄

The fairest and shiniest of them all, the Satetsu Tetsubin is the crown of Japanese cast iron kettles. Made of natural ironsand, or Satetsu (砂鉄 "sand iron") in Japanese, this precious material has a very high concentration of iron and was historically used in samurai sword making.

As Tetsubin, Satetsu offers excellent protection against rust due to its high carbon content and density, therefore these kettles do not need to undergo the protective Kamayaki (釜焼き) firing process, which means they retain their silvery finish. They are also extremely solid and produce a crystal clear note when hit, besides making a pleasant ringing sound when the water begins to boil. Furthermore Satetsu Tetsubin release a significant amount of iron into the boiled water, and are said to make the best tasting water for tea.

Nowadays, ironsand has become rare in Japan, together with the craftsmen who know how to cast it. In addition, it takes a lot of time and effort to make a Satetsu Tetsubin – each kettle is cast in a single-use mould – making them extremely valuable.

How to use

Before use, please make sure to properly season this Tetsubin kettle:

  • First, pour hard water (preferably with a hardness of about 300mg/l, such as Evian or Vittel) into the Tetsubin so that it is about 80% full, to prevent spillage when boiling.
  • With the lid off, heat the Tetsubin over a medium heat on a gas or electric hob, or low to medium on an induction hob if compatible, for about 20 minutes. Then place the lid on, take a kitchen towel or oven mitt to grab hold of the handle, and carefully discard the boiling water.
  • Remove the lid and leave to dry with the residual heat on top of a trivet or protected surface – never put empty Tetsubin on a hot hob.
  • When the Tetsubin body has cooled down, repeat this process two more times.

As the calcium and magnesium in the hard water crystallise when boiled, this creates a protective layer of scale inside the Tetsubin to stop rust developing. Once the Tetsubin is prepared, boil the water of your choice using the same procedure, ensuring to take it off the heat as soon as it has boiled to prevent overheating, and pouring all the water out while it is still hot.


  • Never leave or heat up an empty Tetsubin on a hot stove.
  • Never leave water, hot or cold, to stand inside a Tetsubin, as this can lead to the formation of rust.
  • Do not put in the microwave, oven, dishwasher or dryer.
  • Do not boil or brew tea in a Tetsubin, only plain water.
  • Always leave to dry with the lid off.
  • So that the scale/patina remains intact, do not clean the inside of the Tetsubin. Reddish spots may form on the inside with continued use, however these are not harmful and do not need to be removed.
  • Clean the outside with a dry cloth and wipe off any liquid or grease straight away.
  • It is recommended to use Tetsubin often, and when not in use please store in a well-ventilated place.
  • Please handle hot Tetsubin carefully using oven mitts and trivets.

Although very hard, Satetsu Tetsubin contain a large amount of cementite, which also makes it brittle, this means it may break if dropped or struck hard. Rapid temperature changes, such as putting cold water in while hot, or heating without water inside may also cause it to crack.

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