Tatara-buki (or Tatara air blowing) is an ancient Japanese method for manufacturing iron. The tatara process has a history stretching back more than one thousand years, being a method for fabricating iron unique to Japan built up through the unceasing efforts of our ancestors.

The word tatara itself seems originally to have meant fuigo, or “bellows.” An extremely ancient word, it appears in the second oldest of Japan’s mytho-historical documents, the Nihon-shoki (“Chronicles of Japan”). In that early 8th century work, it appears in the name of Hime-tatara-isuzu-no-hime-no-mikoto, the consort to Japan’s legendary first emperor Jinmu. 
The princess is said to have been the daughter of Koto-shiro-nushi-no-mikoto, an important god from the Izumo region that is one of the two heartlands of early Japanese culture. In this light, it is extremely interesting that the word tatara using these particular characters appears in the name of a princess from a region that is one of Japan’s major iron-manufacturing areas. [1]

One of the top-rank traditional Japanese Steel has been made with “tatara-buki” process for a long time. The “tatara” process is an iron-making technique that puts sand iron and charcoal in a furnace, sends wind and burns them, and makes iron. The process has been nearly lost at one time after world war II, but in 1977 Hitachi Metals, Ltd.  successfully restored it with a huge effort and carries on the tradition of the “tatara”  in a factory located in the city of Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture, Japan. Today, the high quality steel produced in the factory, called “Yasuki Hagane”, has gotten indispensable for making Japanese traditional & high quality kitchen knives and swords.

reference :
[1] About Tatara by Hitachi Metals

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