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a town of craftsmen that has
never changed

The Shinano River, the longest river in Japan, flows through the Tsubame-Sanjo area. The Shinano River nurtures fertile land and has supported farming in the Tsubame-Sanjo area since ancient times. However, the frequent flooding forced people to live in poverty .

Fortunately, there was an abundance of mineral resources, and charcoal was readily available from the vast forests, so the conditions were right for the blacksmithing industry to flourish .

The history of Tsubame-Sanjo

The manufacturing of Japanese iron nails known as "wakugi" emerged as a popular side job in the Edo period. Eventually, the cultivation of new rice fields in the vicinity of the Tsubame-Sanjo area led to this technology being used for the development of agricultural equipment for cultivating crops.

Tsuiki (hand-hammered) copperware also became popular after that, with the area flourishing as a producer of Western tableware in the Taisho era, turning it into a major metalworking hub.


The Tsubame-Sanjo Factory Festival is held in the Tsubame-Sanjo area in the first week of October every year, during which the factories are open to the general public.

113 factories participated in this event in 2019, which attracted around 57,000 visitors.

Various events are held during the festival, including factory visits, a trade show featuring products made in the Tsubame-Sanjo area, and the Aozora Bazaar.

The Tsubame-Sanjo trade show in 2019 showcased a variety of iconic products from the area ranging from kitchenware and outdoor equipment to scissors, knives, and saws, and enthusiastic negotiations could be seen between buyers and the exhibitors at every booth.

Tsubame-Sanjo is one of the leading knife-making areas in Japan, with over 4 billion yen of knives shipped annually. The 2019 trade show also included a kitchen knife fair that showcased more than 500 different knives made by around 30 companies ranging from knives for professionals to those for use in home kitchens. The trade show also attracted many advance enquiries from overseas, in addition to the many overseas buyers who attended the event in person.

Companies in Tsubame-Sanjo area