Many of Japan’s most glittering works of art are Satsuma Kiriko cut glass, which was first produced in the area of its namesake (now Kagoshima Prefecture). Production of this delicate handicraft began in Satsuma in 1846 near the end of the Edo Period when the feudal lord Shimazu Narioki invited glass artisans from Edo (now Tokyo) to his domain. However, it was during the reign of his son Shimazu Nariokira (1851-1858), who was a lover of Western books and technology, when production really started to flourish. Unfortunately, the story of Satsuma Kiriko soon came to an abrupt end in the 1860s after his death, meaning only a limited number of these original masterpieces exist today. Nevertheless, Satsuma Kiriko was given a new lease on life more than a century later, and now stands as a representative craftwork of Kagoshima.
Satsuma Kiriko was inspired by cut glass techniques imported from the West. It was made entirely by hand and created using clear crystal glass and overlaying colored glass. Extra layers of colored glass were then added before the glass was boldly cut to achieve beautiful gradations of color. This process remains true for reproductions today. While renowned for its vivid colors, such as red, indigo blue and purple, the existence of colorless Satsuma Kiriko was also confirmed. Whether full of color or not, a reproduction or an original, Satsuma Kiriko fuses Western ideas and techniques with Japanese aesthetic and craftsmanship to realize something truly breathtaking.
By public transportation
From the E7 bus terminal of JR Kagoshima-Chuo Station, get on a bus bound for National Highway Route 10 for approximately 30 minutes and get off at Ijinkan-mae Bus Stop, from where Iso Kougeikan is just a 2-minute walk.
Address: 9688-24 Yoshino Town, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture
Airport: Kagoshima Airport