Art is everywhere in Japan!
Have you ever been attracted to very fine and beautiful glass arts? If not, you will be surprised by the beauty of the great glass art called “Satsumakiriko (薩摩切子)” found in Kagoshima Japan.
Actually I was completely fascinated with this beautiful style of art. Satsumakiriko was invented and made in Kagoshima in the 19thth century by a local feudal lord named Nariakira Shimadu. Satsumakiriko was one of his projects to earn foreign money from foreign traders to enhance their power. It’s amazing that this art was already invented in 19thth century!
However, the history of Satsumakiriko ended suddenly after his death. There was a fire at the glass factory due to war and all his craftworks and arts we can see today are the modern arts reconstructed based on the old limited materials that remained without being damaged. Though the information we can get is very poor, surprisingly they are successful at making almost the same glass art using the same materials (the variety of colors are made from the different combinations of minerals). It is said the technique and knowledge of making the colored glass was one of the hardest jobs since it takes such a long time to make stable colors.
Satsumakiriko is made by many different glass art experts. Each artist is in charge of a certain process, like making the shape of the glass, curving, polishing, and so on. Each process has very intense quality check, and even if they do their jobs with extreme care, not all the art can pass quality assurance inspection. You might understand how strict the evaluation is after you see the great work of Satsumakiriko!
Visitors can go to the actual Satsumakiriko factory from the central Kagoshima City by bus or car. The factory is located within walking distance from Sengan-en (Japanese old villa, another sightseeing spot) where the buses stop. From this place you can see the beautiful ocean view and the island of Sakurajima from a beautiful beach. When you visit, you may see how many people are involved with making one piece of glass art in the factory. Also, there’s a Satsumakiriko gallery shop by the factory. You can visit and buy souvenirs. The shop staff might allow you to take pictures and you can hear the amazing history and glassworks from them. While the glass art is very, very expensive, it is okay for you to go and simply appreciate the beauty of all the different glass art there. It is worth doing if you have the opportunity to visit Kagoshima.