Admire gorgeous glass and make your own piece you can take home!
Ryukyu glass making is a relatively new Okinawan craft compared to bingata dying and ceramics. Around the start of the 20th century, Okinawan craftsmen began making practical, colorless glass items for everyday functions, like oil vessels and fly catchers.
The post-WWII American presence in Okinawa affected the trade in two ways. First, Americans drank and discarded Coke, 7-up, and beer bottles, which local craftsmen melted down and into glassware that now had tints of blue, green, and brown. Second, Americans stationed in Okinawa were attracted to the beauty of the handmade glass, and began requesting a wider variety of glass items for both entertaining and décor, including punch bowl sets, decanters, and colorful flowers. Soon, Ryukyu glass became popular souvenirs for tourists.
The Ryukyu Glass Craft center in Itoman is the largest glass workshop in Okinawa, and it’s completely free to browse its shops, museum, and outdoor workshop. The main building is adorned with colorful glass mosaic pillars and murals; inside, the foyer’s ceiling is a rainbow colored stained glass window.
The museum, located in the back next to the outlet shop, is filled with luminous glass pieces that are massive and dainty, stylized and utilitarian. A glass sanshin, the Okinawan banjo, sits majestically on one table. Colorless fly catchers and medicine jars from the early 1900’s line some shelves. Many pieces by contemporary artists are for sale, too. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed in the museum.
The outdoor workshop is where all the action takes place. Craftsmen melt down glass and blow them free style or in molds. Starting at ¥1500, you can make your own piece, such as a tumbler, with the aid of craft workers. Because it needs time to cool, you’ll need to pick up the finished piece three days later.
One of the highlights is checking out all the different kinds and colors of handmade glass for sale. Each piece is carefully inspected; if there is just one small undesired mark, a piece is sold at a deep discount, with a sticker next to the blemish to alert customers. Because these marks are often barely noticeable, the pieces make fine gifts or additions to your own collection, at an outstanding value.
MONDAY – SUNDAY 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Ryukyu Glass Craft Factory
Social Media Links
Ryukyu Glass Craft Factory
Japan, 〒901-0345 Okinawa-ken, Itoman-shi, Fukuji, １６９ 琉球ガラス村
Reviews copied from old website:
Submitted on 2014/06/21 at 12:15 am
Oh I miss living in Okinawa , so much to see, peaple are friendly, it’s peaceful . Miss all my shopping sprees, little shops everywhere. Loved to walk and shop that way I wouldn’t miss a store. I have lots of glass from your shop some we got to make. Miss you OKI