Japanese Glass: Sanyu, Kamei, Hineri, Iwatsu,


Perhaps it is due to the language barrier but it is well known amongst the avid glass collectors community that there are many Japanese glassmakers whose skills and techniques rival the famous Murano, Czech and Scandinavian makers of the Western world. The styles in which the glass was produced were similar to that of their Western counterparts but like all things, they had subtle differences, such as the finishing technique and colour palettes (a tendency for more vivid colours).

Sanyu Glass Co. is based in Osaka, Japan and has been producing art glass since the 1950s. Similar to other better-known Japanese glassworks of Iwatsu and Hineri, the quality and style are often mistaken for Murano and Czech glass from the same era. 

Though knowledge of the Japanese glassworks is scarce in Western countries, what is known is that the quality of Japanese art glass from the 1950s to the 1970s rivalled that of Murano, Scandinavian, and Czech glass production. Recognition has been relatively low and most pieces imported into the Western market are often simply marked with the word 'Foreign' or not at all. It is rare to discover pieces with the original glassworks or importing company's label.

Kamei Glassworks Fun fact: the literal translation of the word 'Kamei' is 'Turtle well' and is, in fact, a Japanese surname. The Kamei glassworks was founded in Osaka, Japan in the 1910s. Little is known about the glass artists resident at the glassworks. 

Iwatsu Glassworks. Despite being one of the largest glassmakers in Japan, the commonly cited and understood reason is due to language barriers. However, Iwatsu is deemed to have produced art glass under the Hineri and Art Glass labels before closing in the 1990s. Iwatsu were known to have been based in Osaka in Japan, producing colourful art glass during the 1970s. 

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