Shichirin (七輪)are traditional Japanese portable grills used for cooking food at the table, or outside. They are sometimes also referred to as 'hibachi' or 'konro' outside of Japan. The rectangle shape shichirin is ideal for grilling yakitori and the larger sizes (350 and 450mm) have two compartments, allowing for differentiated heat. Our shichirin are not made from compressed off-cuts or laminated blocks, but are hand cut, shaped and fired from diatomaceous earth ('keisodo') in the Noto Peninsula of Japan. Only three families in Japan still make them like this.
The diatomaceous earth deposits of Noto Peninsula are roughly 12 million years old. It is a soft, sedimentary siliceous rock formed from the fossilized remains of diatoms, or phytoplankton - microscopic organisms that live in the upper layer of oceans. This makes the shichirin porous and light, with excellent insulating properties to retain heat for long periods with very little charcoal.
The best charcoal to use is Kishu binchōtan from Japan, which keeps a constant heat for up to five hours, complimenting the shichirin's insulating properties. We also sell 2kg boxes of binchōtan for use with shichirin, or you can use other charcoal if cooking outside.
NOTO NENSHOUKI is a fourth-generation family business who in its first generation took over the manufacturing of traditional shichirin at an existing diatomaceous earth mine, outside the city of Suzu in the Noto Peninsula. The family continues to make the stoves by hand according to the traditional way. This involves cutting blocks of diatomaceous earth by hand, then shaping the stoves once the blocks have begun to dry, firing them for at least 40 hours at 800°C, after which the shichirin are painted and strengthened with brass plates. A team of approximately seven people are involved in the business and the current President is Shinichi Funaba.
To see a Japanese-language video on this family and exactly how these shichirin are made, click here.