While you are in Japan, why not visit the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace, a world heritage site created by Magistrate Egawa ~tour #106~

韮山反射炉 Shizuoka

The Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace was built at the end of the Edo period by Egawa Tarozaemon Hidetatsu, a magistrate in Nirayama, to manufacture cannons to be installed at Shinagawa Daiba.


It’s a really beautiful building. It seems that the diagonal steel frames were built in later generations to help prevent the original bricks from collapsing. This steel frame was so impressive that I was surprised that it wasn’t original. There’s a sense of unity.

What is Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace?

With the arrival of Perry’s fleet, the Shogunate finally felt the need to strengthen its maritime defense system. Therefore, Hidetatsu Egawa, who had been advising the Shogunate on coastal defense policy for some time, was appointed, and the decision was made to build the reverberatory furnace and Shinagawa Daiba, in Tokyo.


Reverberatory furnaces were built to cast cannons. A reverberatory furnace is a melting furnace that melts iron to make cannons. The heat is reflected on the ceiling inside the furnace and concentrated in one point. The heat was used to melt the iron brought from Kamaishi, Iwatte-Prefecture which was then poured into a cannon mold, allowed to cool and harden, and was then hollowed out. Firebricks (from Kawazu Town) that can withstand temperatures up to 1,700 degrees Celsius are used.


You should definitely go to the guidance center

Please be sure to visit the guidance center and listen to the explanations from the guides. Otherwise, you will miss the best part of the Nirayama reverberatory furnace.


Respected Magistrate Egawa

Of course, in addition to Nirayama, there were 11 other reverberatory furnaces across Japan. Nirayama is the only one who actually made cannons and which still exist. According to our guide, the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace was carefully protected and survived to this day because Magistrate Egawa was loved by the local people.


A person of culture, innovative engineer, smallpox vaccination, bread maker

A magistrate of Egawa who excelled in calligraphy, painting, poetry, and the creation of crafts, and was highly regarded as a person of culture. After reading a book written in Dutch, he proposed and implemented the construction of a reverberatory furnace. What surprised me was that he administered smallpox vaccination to the people of the territory. It is said that by inoculating the people of the territory under his control with cowpox, the number of people infected with smallpox was significantly lower. Magistrate Egawa mentioned that he had given the vaccine to his own two children, and also dispelled the fears, superstitions, and rumors about the mysterious nature of smallpox that were circulating among the people at the time. He also produced bread as ordnance. It is sold in town as Hidetatsu’s bread.


It has been designated as a World Heritage Site and is a wonderful historical building. I am also impressed by the personality of Magistrate Egawa, who was a man of character. Please enjoy and experience the wonderful history of Japan.

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Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace Visitor Center
260-1, Naka, Izunokuni-city, Shizuoka-Prefecture