I am no stranger to glass blowing. I have seen some at Renaissance Faires and I was neither impressed nor bored. Indifferent, maybe yes. But the Ryukyu glass in Okinawa has a history as colorful as their handmade glasses. At Onna Glass Craft Learning Center, the art of glass hand making is very alive. Here, one gets a glimpse of the art and how these craftsmen treat each proudly like each is a masterpiece. My eyes were fixed not to the glass blowing craftsmen but to the artist who was swaying back and forth a glowing stick like he was doing his own version of karate and magically fashioned a flower vase. It was education and entertainment at its best.
Glass is said to be introduced to Okinawa in the 17th century as imports from mainland Japan. Because of the damages caused by transporting and shipping, glass craftsmen from Nagasaki and Osaka were invited to Okinawa to establish a glass factory, molding from raw materials of discarded bottles until all was destroyed in World War II.
After the war, the Okinawans started melting down old Coke and beer bottles left behind by US troops to make something. Air bubble in glasses which is considered by some as a fluke, and the vibrant colors that reflect the culture and life in the island are trademarks of Ryukyu glasses.
Check on Google Street View below for an additional information and perspective on Ryukyu Handmade Glass: