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Ryukyu Glassware


Photo: TARUMI Kengo

Also called “Okinawan glass,” this glassware is lightly colored with simple yet powerful shapes. It was initially created post-war, by the World War II military glass factory workers who made glassware for daily use with coke and juice bottles. It was first popular among the Americans, yet now, it is considered one of the traditional artistry of Okinawa. The light blue glasses are made from large sake or coke bottles; green ones from soda; brown ones from beer. When visiting some tourist spots, you can see its production process. A lump of molten fiery red glass is blown into shape through an iron pipe called fukizao. Since they are all hand-made, each work has a distinctive color, shape, luster, and so, a character of its own.

When I first saw the Ryukyu glasses at a craft shop in Tokyo, I thought for a moment that it was Mexican. I was awed by its weight and subtle color. I own about a dozen of them on my glassware shelf, but each has its own uniqueness.