March 16, 2019

JAPAN TRAVEL: Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks Features The Art of Glass Making in Kagoshima

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  • JAPAN TRAVEL: Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks Features The Art of Glass Making in Kagoshima
  • Part of the efforts of the Shimadzu clan to modernize Japan is Satsuma Kiriko, the art of glass making.

    Satsuma Kiriko, a cut crystal glass, was first manufactured in 1851. It was pioneered by Nairakira, the 28th head of the influential Shimadzu clan.

    Nariakira started to modernize Japan in fear of Western colonization; thus he created the Shuseikan Project. This project spawned many factories and workshops, which then included Satsuma Kiriko.

    However, when Nariakira died, the production of Satsuma Kiriko had stopped. It was then revived again in 1985 when Shimadzu Ltd. worked and researched on its reproduction once again.

    At present, Satsuma Kiriko is very much alive and the art of glassmaking still thrives, especially in Kagoshima Prefecture where it is considered a Traditional Cultural Craft Product.

    If you wish to see this fine art of glassmaking, you can visit the site where you can learn how Satsuma Kiriko is produced.

    A trip to the Shimadzu Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks will let you observe the step-by-step process of making Satsuma Kiriko.

    In this site, highly-skilled artisans carefully work on creating delicate crystal glass which has become a symbolic pride of Kagoshima.

    It is significant to note that Satsuma Kiriko is not your ordinary kind of glass product that you can buy elsewhere. With a hundred years of tradition incorporated into creating this craft product, this unique item is considered of great worth.

    Satsuma Kiriko has distinct characteristics that separate it from other forms of glassmaking. In making Satsuma Kiriko, intrinsic cuts and colors are made into the different layers of glass. This then produces color gradation that creates a fading effect.

    Satsuma Kiriko is elegant-looking, and it can be relatively expensive. It is not to be confused with Edo Kiriko, which originated in Tokyo.

    Finished products are displayed on the gallery shop next door, set in an Important Cultural Property in 1909. This European-style gallery houses different Satsuma Kiriko products, ranging from jewelry, vessels, and figurines.

    Visit Shimadzu Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks and learn more about this traditional Kagoshima product.

    How to get here
    By car: Take the National Highway No. 10 towards Kokubu and Miyazaki. Go through the Torigoe Tunnel and take a left turn.
    By bus: Get off at Sengan-en bus stop. From there, it is a 5-minute walk.

    General Information
    Address: 9688-24 Yoshino-cho, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0871
    Operating Hours: 9 am to 5 pm (Break time: 10 am to 10:15; 3:00 to 3:15, and 12 to 1 pm)
    Closed on: Monday and Every 3rd Sunday of the month
    Contact: +81 99-247-2111
    Admission is free.

    This first appeared in Philippine Primer magazine Vol. 36 – March 2019 issue.

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