Edo Kiriko Whiskey Glasses (Japanese Heritage in Every Pour)

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Formerly named Edo, Japan’s capital city of Tokyo gained its name in 1869 when the Edo period came to an end.

This particular period beginning in 1603, is historic for the economic growth seen throughout.

However, it is also known for Isolationism, strict Social Policy, and order. “The Great Edo” period was littered with the enjoyment of arts and the growth of culture.

Image of a japanese Edo Kiriko Glass and Box

One stunning aspect of this period’s art is Edo Kiriko Glass, used to craft world famous Whiskey Glasses.

Here, we will explore the history, value and culture surrounding these intricate pieces of art.

What is Edo Kiriko Glass?

The word ‘kiriko’ translates as ‘cut glass’, and is glass that has been cut with various things like:

  • Patterns
  • Textures
  • Colour

It is a traditional artform that has been passed down from generation to generation, ever since its establishment centuries ago, and prominently used to craft Edo Kiriko Whiskey Glasses.

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What is the History behind Edo Kiriko?

We don’t know when the first whiskey glass was made in this style, but the glass itself has a long history.

It began its days in southern Japan, when a late 19th century rebellion called the Satsuma Rebellion, forced many skilled artisans to leave their homes and head for Edo.

Carrying the styles of Satsuma Kiriko with them, they combined Edo techniques with their own and crafted a predecessor of what is now the iconic, multicultural artform of Edo Kiriko.

Interesting Note: There are twelve known designs attributed to this style of craftsmanship. The most famous of these is a fractal pattern known as ‘Nanko’ meaning ‘fish eggs’ – resembling the crisscrossed lines of clustered caviar.

Who is the Founding Father of Edo Kiriko?

A merchant in Odenmacho, Edo (1834), discovered that using an abrasive mineral in powdered form could inflict patterns on the surface of blown glass.

The powder: Kongosha Emery, allowed him to create fine artwork on his pieces. Considered a predecessor to modern Edo Kiriko, it has since inspired a large industry that is still active to this day. All owed to Kagaya Kyubei.

Following this, the establishment of the Shinagawa Glass Factory ensured the future of Edo Kiriko, along with some guidance from Emmanuel Hauptmann, England.

Hauptmann travelled to Japan and worked with the Japanese, fusing some English techniques with theirs and creating the cherished Edo Kiriko that is so beloved in Japan today.

When was the Golden Age of Edo Kiriko?

Production and consumption of this craft peaked throughout the mid-section of the 20th century (around 1925 to 1985).

Edo Kiriko evolved and became immensely popular and varied throughout this time.

This led to the recognition of it as an official traditional Japanese craftmanship by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry in 2002.  

Also readExploring the World of Sake Sets

What is the Most Popular Edo Kiriko Item?

Edo Kiriko Glassware is crafted in varied forms. From bottles and vases to all different kinds of tall and small drinking glasses.

The latter being the most popular item of all: a Sake Vessel, or Whiskey Glass. Sets of these can be quite expensive, ranging from $50.00 for a pair, all the way up to more than $250.00.

An individual glass can be around $30.00, on average. Some original Edo pieces go for up to $500.00.

When Crystal is used, techniques have to be much more precise. This means prices can reach astronomical heights, with some singular items ranging from between $1000.00 and $2500.00.  

Historical Fact: An original pair dating back to the Edo period is said to be preserved in Kunozan Toshogu Museum.

Where is the Best Place to Get Edo Kiriko Whiskey Glasses?

With a world at your fingertips in the age of the internet, you can source genuine Japanese glasses right from the palm of your hand.

Many Japanese companies produce some beautiful glasses and have online catalogues presenting many different products and designs.

So, it is relatively easy to get your hands on genuine Japanese Edo Kiriko. The techniques are even used with Crystal, to make delicate pieces of jewellery, as well as expensive Sake Glasses.

How Many Types of Edo Kiriko Whiskey Glasses Are There?

They are available as singular tumblers, pairs, and sets of up to and over 10.

One of the most popular combinations is a 3-piece set consisting of a small bottle and two matching glasses. Designs are vastly varied.

From simply frosted variations to intricately patterned and multicoloured ones, there is a huge amount of choice in the market.

There are even some rather expensive and very rare novelty designs, based on famous anime. Demon Slayer Inosuke glasses can be priced at over $300.00 a piece!

What’s the most Expensive Edo Whiskey Glass ever sold?

The price of Edo Kiriko whiskey glasses can vary greatly based on factors like design complexity, craftsmanship, brand reputation, and rarity.

Some exceptional and intricate pieces can be quite expensive, ranging from several hundred to over a thousand US dollars.

We know of one selling at auction for $7600 which is 1104998.20 Japanese Yen.

However, prices can change over time, and there might be new releases or unique pieces that command even higher prices.

03/26/2024 01:08 pm GMT Lasso Brag

Final thoughts

Edo Kiriko Whiskey Glasses have a long history. Beginning as a humble craft, it has evolved through the years, becoming a world renowned artform and a recognised and traditional Japanese craft.

Edo Kiriko pieces are elaborately decorative and are often used for very special occasions. Should you be lucky enough to own one of these, you should truly cherish it.

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