Cool Japan Glass Makes You Cool
Words by Megumi Rokuhara
A glass studio located in a well-known pottery city
Bizen, a city in the Okayama prefecture of Japan, is the birthplace of Bizen-yaki (known as Bizen pottery).
In this famous “city of pottery” lies a glass studio run by Hiroi Hanaoka, a glass artist born and bred there.
“I didn’t think that I would become a glass artist,” he admitted.
When he came to decide his future career, however, he made up his mind to study ceramics in Kurashiki-city.
“I wanted to make something,” he shared.
During university, he was exposed to and got delighted by the “glass arts”.
He believed he was destined to make glassware.
Glassware made in the kiln that reaches 1100C
Making glassware is actually a fight against the high-temperature conditions.
A glass artist winds the melted glass around a pole, blows breeze into the glass, adjusts the shape, and repeats all these processes again…
He shapes glass by using some tools and the power of gravity because he can’t directly touch it due to the heat.
“It is difficult, but also the most interesting part,”
he says with a gentle smile.
The finished glassware, all lined up in his gallery, look somewhat clear and cool after going through these processes.
GRICE, the glass bowl made of rice
There is gorgeous blue glass tableware among his work.
It is called the “GRICE” series and is made of a mixture of glass and rice ash.
From a historical perspective, Bizen-yaki traces its roots back to the time when peasants started to make ceramics by using mud from their rice fields.
In the Ita-region, where Hanaoka’s studio is currently located, there used to be rice fields from which money was generated. This was used to fund the first public school in Japan.
Hanaoka came up with the idea of using rice as a coloring ingredient for glassware when he thought about the relation between Bizen city and his glasswork.
After some struggles, he succeeded in creating beautiful blue glassware
Glassware with your daily life
His glassware goes well and looks harmonious with other tableware.
“I hope that people can use them in any scenes of their life.”
With this goal in his mind, Hanaoka creates a glassware that can stand naturally and harmoniously with other ceramics and wooden tableware.
“Considering what was symbolic of Japan, one thing that came up to my mind was rice, so… I hope that people will feel some “Japanism” from my glassware, and use it in their daily lives.”
He smiled, imagining a scene in which his glassware would be used beyond the sea.