Nagasaki Vidro and Ryukyu Glass

Nagasaki and Ryukyu
Nagasaki Vidro: The glass products of Nagasaki are also known in Japanese as Nagasaki Vidro (vidro is the Portuguese word for glass). When the Port of Nagasaki was opened to the world in 1570, a variety of new cultures were introduced to Nagasaki. Nagasaki's Vidro glasswork represents one craft that was adopted from Portugal. Vidro is blown glass made by attaching molten glass to the tip of a pipe and fabricating a shape in a manner similar to swelling a soap bubble. Because the glass cools and hardens rapidly, it must be processed quickly and carefully despite its high temperature. The completed vidro items display a variety of shapes and colors. Available products include Nagasaki Chirori, a beautiful indigo blue sake ware, and poppen, a novelty item that produces a sound when one blows on it.

Okinawa Glass: It is said that the beginning of Okinawan glass crafts was around the mid- Meiji-era and it has a history of about 100 years. The present style of Ryukyu Glass was created from raw materials of empty and beer bottles that were discarded from U. S. military bases. The islands that now make up Okinawa Prefecture were formerly not part of Japan, but part of an independent nation called the Ryukyu Kingdom. Okinawa's location in the East China Sea, and relatively close proximity to Japan, Korea, China and South East Asia allowed the Ryukyu Kingdom to become a prosperous trading nation. The many castle ruins that dot the island date from this period. However, in 1609 the Japanese Satsuma clan, who controlled the region that is now Kagoshima Prefecture, invaded. Following this invasion, although the Ryukyu Kingdom remained nominally independent, it was effectively under the control of the Satsuma. In 1879, following the Meiji restoration, the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and became Okinawa Prefecture. Following the end of World War II and the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, for 27 years Okinawa was under US administration.

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