Edo kiriko, or cut glass, is a manufacturing method in which clear colors and delicate patterns are cut into glass.
It’s said that Edo kiriko was founded in 1834 by Kagaya Kyubei, who operated a glassware store in the Odenmacho area of Edo, now better known as Tokyo. After studying in Osaka, which had developed advanced glassware manufacturing methods, he returned to Edo and operated a glassware store that manufactured eyeglasses and thermometers. From there, cut glass gradually spread throughout Edo.
In 1876, aided by the government’s policy of promoting new industries in the hope of catching up to Western industries, the Shinagawa Glass Factory was established. With this, the first modern glass production started in Japan. In 1881, Emmanuel Hauptmann, an English engineer versed in modern glass-cutting techniques, was invited to impart these skills to selected trainees. Consequently, by combing the techniques that were passed down since the Edo Period and the latest methodologies of modern industry, the very unique style of Edo kiriko was formed.
Edo kiriko features designs like none other. The popular patterns that were made during the Edo Period were known as nanako (combining the Chinese characters for “fish” and “child”), as the patterns looked as if they were composed of many drops of fish eggs connected together. Today, patterns such as yarai (resembling a rain of arrows), chrysanthemums and hemp leaves are also used either alone or in combination with nanako. Products made using these designs include tokuri (sake bottles) and guinomi (sake cups), as well as Western products such as wine glasses, rocks glasses and other products such as dishes and vases. With elegant, transparent and clean Japanese-style designs, the works of Edo kiriko will captivate anybody’s heart.
Photo by EDOKIRIKO COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION