Before World War II, a number of families who had been iron makers for generations, going back to the Edo period, owned vast natural forests in the Okuizumo district in Shimane Prefecture called Tetsuzan (literally, “iron forest”), from which they obtained charcoal for the production of iron. It has not been clear until now how they accumulated these forests. By close examination of documents from the Edo period, which have been preserved by the iron makers’ families, I gathered concrete evidence that they accumulated the vast forest areas by purchase.
In this paper, I show chronologically how the Tetsuzan were purchased by iron makers in Nita County, a territory of Matsue Feudal Domain, in the early Edo period. After determining the precise location of these Tetsuzan and locating them on a map, I was able to observe the process of expansion of the iron manufacturing enterprises. As a result, I was able to determine that the five iron makers had already been establishing large-scale enterprises in Nita County early in the eighteenth century and that Matsue Domain protected them by carrying out an iron manufacturing policy called Tetsukata-Housiki in 1726.