Umami Mart Barware
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When we voiced our wish to visit a few factories in Japan earlier this year, we didn't realize that so many of them would be in the same town. Not just that, but only a short drive from one another. Tsubame City in Niigata is well known throughout Japan for its high quality steel, having been top exporters of tabletop cutlery as well as utensils for airlines (back when us little people in coach class would get silverware. ANA still offers this luxury).

We gave you a behind-the-scene look into the Yukiwa factory, makers of most of our bar tools. Now, we give you a tour of Asahi, a company specializing in copperware; namely our Moscow Mule cup!

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Literally, it took us 10 minutes to drive from Yukiwa to Asahi. So close! An "industrial town" in every sense of the word, Tsubame City's landscape brims with steel factories and distributors. There was a true sense of community from factory to factory; not so competitive as much as it felt like they were all working with one another. Lots of camaraderie within the town, it felt nice.

After a short meeting of introductions and sitting down with the owner of Asahi and his son, they generously showed us around the premises, mainly where all the polishing is completed.

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Since it was February, the coldest time of the year in Niigata, all the workers had blankets on their laps and space heaters near their feet. They blazed through every piece of product, whether it was a cup or a frying pan.

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Our cups before they are hammered!

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These beauties are pure copper, and lined with food-safe tin inside, which is a requirement for copper in Japan.

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We saw these tamago-yaki (egg omelet) pans and knew we had to get them for our shop. They are gorgeous and conduct heat evenly so you get a nicely done omelet that is slightly gooey on the inside. Get yours here.

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Polishing the pans:

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The inner-workings of a copper factory!

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Prototypes:

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Thank you Asahi for taking us around and letting us tour your factory. The copper mugs are one of our top five selling products at Umami Mart and we were so excited to see them being polished in action.

Happy Muling!

*Photos by Yoko Kumano