Edo-Kiriko Kobayashi


Yoshiro Kobayashi:

The third generation owner of Kobayashi Glass

Yoshiro Kobayashi was born in Koutou-ku, Tokyo. After graduating from Meiji University, He took up the study of glassware under the direction of his father, Hideo, who was awarded with a medal and the title “Contemporary Master Craftsman.” Yoshiro Kobayashi followed in his father’s footsteps in 1973 and he took over as the third generation owner of Kobayashi Glass. Kobayashi Glass was established in 1908 by the founder, Kikuichiro who studied under Tokumatsu Ohashi, a pioneer of Edo Kiriko, however, because of the war Kikuichiro moved to Nagano prefecture. After the war, he restarted Edo Kiriko in Koutoku-ku, Tokyo with his eldest son Hideo who had just come back from the war and this is the beginning of Kobayashi Glass’s history. In 1981, Yoshiro Kobayashi won a prize in the Japan Traditional Crafts New Work Exhibition. Yoshiro Kobayashi has won numerous awards such as the 30th Japan Traditional Crafts Exhibition Honorable Mention Award in 1983. In 2005, he was certified as an “Edo Kiriko traditional craftsman” by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. He was also designated an intangible cultural asset by the local government of Koutou-ku, Tokyo in 2009. Now, he is the Board Chairman of the Tokyo Cut Glass Industry Cooperative. Currently, Yoshiro’s son Kouhei has been undergoing training since graduating and he is working hard to create excellent work just like his master Yoshiro. 

Kobayashi Glass (http://hw001.spaaqs.ne.jp/arazuri/index.html)


Process of Edo Kiriko

Stage 1. Waridashi (Draw a pattern on to the glass)
Edo kiriko_process 1 waridashi001Edo kiriko_process 1 waridashi002Edo kiriko_process 1 waridashi003

Draw guidelines on the surface of the glass using special equipment. There are only gridlines and no pre-prepared sketch. Edo Kiriko artisans usually create a design in their head.

Stage 2. Arazuri (Rough cutting)
Edo kiriko_process 2 arazuri 001Edo kiriko_process 2 arazuri 002
While they draw the guidelines, they also start to grind into the glass with a rough diamond glass cutter. This stage is the most difficult and delicate stage for the first drawing; it is imperative not to make a mistake. Depending on the design, the artisan decides on several sizes of diamond grinders.

Stage 3 Gohyaku-ban (Smoothing)
Edo kiriko_process 3 Gohyakuban 001Edo kiriko_process 3 Gohyakuban 002
Using a fine grinder the artisan makes more details and refines the grinded line from stage 2. When the artisan was in training, they normally start from this stage because they are easily able to see the grinded lines created by their master. Thus, this is a great opportunity to learn how to move their hands or fingers to create beautiful cutting lines.

Stage 4. Migaki (Polishing)
Edo kiriko_process 4 Migaki 001Edo kiriko_process 4 Migaki 002Edo kiriko_process 4 Migaki 003

The Artisan uses a wooden or resin grinder, and a felt and rubber wheel to restore the glass’s transparency. In the previous stages the glass had an opaque surface. Basically, they polish with their hands but it depends on what type of glass they use. When they make Edo Kiriko with crystal glass, they polish with a chemical mixture mostly using hydrofluoric acid. This is called ‘San Migaki’ (Acid polishing).

Making of Edo kiriko by Yoshiro Kobayashi


History of Edo Kiriko

Edo Kiriko, this type of cut glass has its origins in Edo (former name of Tokyo) in Tenpo 5 (1834). It is said that a person called Kyubei Kagaya, who worked at a glassware shop, developed Edo cutting glass skills from emulating a style of British cut glass and start to incise on the surface of glassware with emery sand. Originally, the apex of Japanese glass craft reached full bloom in the Tenpyo era (7th ~8th century), but waned from the 900s. However, 600 years later in 1549 the Japanese glassware culture became active again due to the influence of Francis Xavier. He brought glassware such as glasses, mirrors and vessels to Japan and the industry gradually prospered when Dutch and Chinese glass craftsman came to Nagasaki (about 1,000km to the west from Tokyo) around 1573. From that time on, people all over Japan heard about the flourishing glassware manufacture in Nagasaki, and many people come to study from Edo, Osaka, and from all over the country. After a few years, people who studied at Nagasaki brought back the skills of glassware to their hometowns, and that movement built up a foundation of Japanese glassware manufacturers.


Kyubei Kagaya, the pioneer of Edo cut glass, was the assistant manager of Kagaya, a glassware shop in Nihonbashi, in the town centre of Edo during An'ei 2 (1772). Then he started to enhance his knowledge of glassware and went to Osaka to study under the glass sculptor Kahei Izumiya for a few years. It is said that when Matthew C. Perry the commodore of the U.S. Navy fleet that came to Uraga, Japan in Kaei 6 (1853), Kyubei Kahei presented his Edo Kiriko and Perry was amazed at the quality and the level of craftsmanship apparent in the work. In Meiji 6 (1873) the government established the Shinagawa industrial glass factory as part of its industrial policy and Japanese modernistic glass production began. In Meiji 4 (1881), the Japanese government employed Emmanuel Hauptmann, a cut glass engineer from England, to teach cutting edge techniques of cut glass technology. This formed the starting point of the development of Edo Kiriko. Since then Japan has faced disasters such as earthquakes, war, etc, however, despite all this Edo Kiriko's tradition has carried through to the present.

edokiriko kobayashi white

Old Fashioned Glass -Clear

edokirko red ochoko kobayashi

Edo kiriko sake cup guinomi pink

red tokkuri edokoriko kobayashi

Edo kiriko sake bottle tokkuri pink

blue wine edokiriko kobayashi

Edo Kiriko Japanese sake glass blue

red wine edokiriko kobayashi

Edo Kiriko Japanese sake glass red

edokirko blue ochoko kobayashi

Edo kiriko sake cup guinomi blue