Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
The Fabulous Metalwork That Enchanted Apple Inc. at Tsubamesanjo Wing
Written by MICKEY MITSUMOTO
Have you ever wondered where Apple got the metal for its iPods from, or would you like to buy high quality goods for friends while seeing Japanese handicrafts? Tsubamesanjo Wing in Niigata is the perfect place.
Have you heard of the Tsubamesanjo region? It's in Niigata prefecture, which is known for its delicious rice, Japanese sake, and the breathtaking Mt. Yahiko. Tsubamesanjo is a region that extends over Tsubame city and Sanjo city.
The Tsubamesanjo region is known for its exceptional metalwork. In 2001, Apple started selling the laptop "PowerbookG4". This was the first laptop that used metal for its body. This development required such a high level of technique, that it couldn't have been done without the Tsubamesanjo metalwork techniques.
Didn't the iPod that was released next become such a hot topic because the back looked just like a mirror? This couldn't have been done if the technique from a Tsubamesanjo company didn't exist. It's a technique where you polish the metal similarly to how you would polish a mirror, called kyomen shiage.
Even now they continue to make products that receive high reviews worldwide. Some of these products are carried at the global outdoor brand Snow Peak or as part of the high class western tableware that you see at Nobel Prize dinners.
The metal polishers accept these production requests. They made a special group called the Migakiya syndicate (Polishers' syndicate). They treat each individual employee whether from small factories or large companies as equals.
By the way, even Mr. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, visited Niigata's Central Region including Tsubamesanjo. His Zen teacher, Mr. Hirofumi Otsukawa's hometown temple is in the region. This might be why Apple noticed the Tsubamesanjo region.
The Polishers' Metal Products are Gathered at Tsubamesanjo Wing
Tsubamesanjo Wing is where all the metal products from the Polishers' syndicate who receive reviews worldwide are gathered.
The stores at Tsubamesanjo station and surrounding area make it the perfect place to buy presents at the end of your trip. It's so convenient to go sightseeing and not have to carry souvenirs around with you all day.
We will introduce some of the metal products sold at Tsubamesanjo Wing.
These are portable camping snow peak chopsticks. You can disassemble and put them away piece by piece. (3909 yen)
With its moderate heaviness and perfect fit, it's an iPhone case that gives off an expensive feeling. (8640 yen-20,570 yen).
Sake cups - what you use when you are taking a swig of Japanese sake. (9180-11,180 yen)
The Tsubamesanjo regions are also known as a producers of kitchen knives.
Nail clipping and grooming set. (43,740 yen)
A high-quality titanium tumbler. The titanium tumbler, polished with the kyomen shiage has a smooth surface and feels familiar on your hand. If you pour beer into it a smooth and creamy foam appears. The foam doesn't go away that easily. If your drink your beer from this, your evening beer is bound to taste a little different.
Includes Free Wi-fi and Recharging Locations
Inside Tsubamesanjo Wing there is a break room, free Wi-Fi, and a recharging spot; tourists may feel extremely grateful for this area because they don't have to worry about phone reception problems. Don't worry, even people who aren't buying presents can use the break room.
You can reserve and experience various factory tours from the Tsubamesanjo Wing website. How about taking a tour and seeing if you can find the Tsubamesanjo region's secrets?
Address: Niigata, Sanjo, Shimosugoro 502-3 (JR Tsubamesanjo station 2nd floor)
Closed: End/Start of the year( 12/30-1/1)
Credit cards: VISA,JCB,MasterCard,AMEX,Union Pay
Nearest Station: JR Tsubamesanjo Station (燕三条駅)
Access: Directly at JR Tsubamesanjo station
Price Range: 500-20,000yen
Phone number: 81-3-0256-34-7310
Official Website：Tsubamesanjo Wing (Japanese)