【Edo Tokyo Rethink】Edo Kiriko Hanashyo:Finding Joy in the Unexpected
“Edo kiriko,” a style of cut-glass that emerged in Japan, traces its roots back to the Nihonbashi district, during the final days of the Edo Period. It was first generation head Mokichi Kumakura who established the Edo kiriko workshop Hanashyo in the Kameido district of Tokyo. Second generation couple Ryūichi and Setsuko Kumakura sought to move away from the workshop’s role as a manufacturer of original equipment. Instead, they would work on creating “something totally unique and original.” Thanks to their efforts, Edo kiriko is now recognized even outside of Japan, even being chosen as gifts for the 2008 G8 Summit in Hokkaido’s Toya Lake.
Carrying on the tradition of Hanashyo, what does third-generation Takayuki Kumakura think of the future shape of Edo kiriko? When asked this question at a meeting focused on the collaborative work between Hanashyo and contemporary artist Noritaka Tatehana, he gave an unexpected answer.
“While it is important to maintain traditional techniques, I think we shouldn’t be tied down by that very tradition. I am simply a waypoint for tradition to pass through. In order to allow the foundation of Edo kiriko to be as accessible as possible for future generations, I want to make an effort to expand the freedom involved.”
One example is that Takayuki always accepts the suggestions made by the artisan who makes the pre-cut glass. If Takayuki forces the artisan to make the glass based on very specific instructions, then they would end up being no different to a machine.
“In a way, glass is very similar to a living thing, and there are many times when work on it won’t go the way you expect. That is why it is important to respect the feelings of those at your side, and find the excitement in a make-or-break situation. By building a relationship of trust, you can find the best solution together without having to discuss everything in detail.”
While the size, color, conditions of the line’s curves, and other details have been discussed at the meeting, there is no doubt that it will all come down to a single make-or-break moment. The climax of this work born from a collision of both sides’ sensibilities will be its unveiling at the exhibition on March 2022.
Photo by Satomi Yamauchi
*All necessary safety precautions were taken during the interview as part of COVID-19 prevention.
Online Exhibition Outline
Exhibition Title: Edo Tokyo Rethink -The Future of Traditional Industries Represented by Art in the Former Iwasaki House Garden-
Exhibition Period: March 24, 2022 (Thu) 14:00 – March 31, 2022 (Thu)
*The exhibition will be available for viewing as an archive at the same URL even after the online exhibition ends.
Organizer: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Edo-Tokyo Kirari Project
Co-organizer: Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association