Ikakeya (鋳掛屋)

Ikakeya indicates the craftsman who does the work of ikake (repairing pots and rice cookers).

It is a craftsman that repairs the casting pots, rice cookers and so on. It is also written as Ikake or Ikakeshi.

The pots and rice cookers which were household goods from Edo to Showa Period were made by casting. But it made a hollow inside easily with the low level of casting techniques in those days, and sometimes got a hole by cracking. Meanwhile, pots and rice cookers were the valuable goods that thieves tried to steal first and foremost, as a proverb 'rice cooker was stolen on a moonlit night (being very careless)' goes. Therefore, as people in those days could not afford to easily throw it away or replace it even if it got a hole, they repaired it over and over to continue to use it. And the repairer who did the repair work was ikakeya.

"Ikakeya repairs the holes or cracks of iron or copper pots and rice cookers, and he carries his bellows and repairs them immediately. The act of ikakeya doing the repair work is similar to the three biggest cities (Edo, Kyoto and Osaka) in Japan.

Ikakeya walked around towns and villages calling out, and when he was asked, he started the job. The right figure shows that an ikakeya carries his bellows properly in his tool box. It can be imagined that the enough heat amount to melt a piece of cast iron for repairing the pots and rice cookers casted by cast iron with a low melting point in those days could be obtained by such a simple equipment.

The origin of the word ikakeya comes from the combination of 'ite' which means to melt the metal and 'kakeru' which means to pour.

As the quality of pots and rice cookers had not improved until Meiji and Taisho period, ikakeya were able to manage their business. But the business began to fade out rapidly in Showa Period. However, the technique of ikake itself is still needed even today. There are some casters that repair temple bells and large rice cookers in their spare time.

There is a senryu (satirical haiku) "Nabeikake Suteppenkara Tabakonishi," which humorously depicts the ikakeya who started his work with taking a whiff suddenly. This is because he had nothing to do until the temperature in the furnace rose.
Suteppen means 'from the beginning.'

[Original Japanese]