Metal One Metal One Coporation
  HOME     JAPANESE     CHINESE     SITE MAP  
Value One - A Communication Medium of the Metal One Group -
HOME > Value One > Metal Culture > Muroran
From Value One, Winter 2017 No. 55  

A sampling of the many different kinds of Bolta figures. Their expressive and dynamic figures are very charming.
 

Bolt Figures Revive an Iron Town

With Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation’s Muroran Works and other steelmakers such as Japan Steel Works, Ltd. in the area, Muroran became the largest industrial city in Hokkaido, rising alongside the steel industry.

Muroran began its history as an “iron town” in 1909 when the Hokkaido Colliery & Steamship Co., Ltd. built Japan’s first blast furnace for iron sand smelting, consuming locally produced iron sand and coal. The company led the regional economy for many years as Hokkaido’s only integrated pig iron and steel-producing plant.

However, the 1985 Plaza Accord spurred a rapid global appreciation of the yen that hit Japanese manufacturing industries hard. The Muroran Works was no exception, and was obliged to reinvent itself as a manufacturing base specializing in specialty steel. This “iron chill” turned Muroran’s once-thriving shopping streets into a collection of closed stores.

Against this discouraging background, young business leaders in Muroran launched a project called Tetsupuro to revitalize the area. Their aim was to use new takes on iron and steel to rejuvenate the town that the iron business had largely built.


They held the first Iron Festa event in 2004. Iron Festa featured a demonstration of tatara ironmaking——a classical Japanese way of iron making from sand iron—and the production of figures welded from bolts and nuts. These figures turned out to be much more popular than expected, and were later miniaturized into five-centimeter-tall characters sold under the name Bolta. This new product attracted media interest, and Bolta figures soon became a typical souvenir of Muroran.

Craftsmen make Bolta figures all by hand, soldering together stainless steel parts such as bolts, nuts and washers. The dolls come in a hundred different poses, including those enjoying sports or music, and confessing love. Every figure has its own story guaranteed to make the owner smile.

Yoshikazu Hoshino, formerly a steel professional at the Muroran Works and now the chief of the Bolta Workshop, says: “I had always been moved by a keen wish to revitalize the town with iron.”

Muroran has a century-long history as a major iron town. The iron and steel industry, a sector that typically produces items that are heavy, thick, long and large, is now exhibiting new charm as it crafts these small steel figures.

A view of Muroran, where the Muroran Works and other factories sit one next to another




The Bolta Workshop, where craftsmen make every product by hand. (The idea of Bolta is based on bolt-made figures around the world, including Boltman made by the Junk Welder.)






Metal Culture
2018
Koto
Hagi
2017
Hirosaki
Hiroshima
Osaka
Muroran
2016
Fukuyama
Misato
Matsudo
Kumamoto
2015
Minamisatsuma
Sumida
Sano
2014
Osaka
Hitoyoshi
Seki
Oshu
2013
Hiroshima
Tokyo
Kawasaki
Nishinoomote
2012
Osaka
Yamagata
Funabashi
Sanjo
2011
Kitakyushu
Nagoya
Echizen
Hamamatsu
2010
Miki
Izunokuni
Kure
Osaka
2009
Inazawa
Kobe
Kuwana
Nagaoka
2008
Kami Town
Ota City
Kamogawa
Hiroshima
2007
Kamaishi
Higashi-Osaka
Nagahama
Tosa
2006
Izumo
Himeji
Sakai
Tsubame
2005
Kumano
Kawaguchi
Seki
Nishiwaki
2004
Minato Ward
Sakaki
Morioka
Introduction of Group Companies
Topics
Foreign Correspondenc
?Terms of Use  
(C) Copyright Metal One Corporation. All rights reserved.