16th-century glass artifacts, workshop unearthed in Fukui

FUKUI (Kyodo) A large number of glass beads and the remains of a bead-making workshop believed to be from the 16th century have been unearthed at the Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins, a designated special historical site in the city of Fukui, a museum announced Thursday.

It is the first time glass beads in such large numbers have been found in an atelier from the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), according to Fukui Prefectural Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins Museum. Previously, fused glass from the Muromachi Period has been confirmed at the Shuri Castle Ruins in Okinawa Prefecture and at the Namioka Castle Ruins in Aomori Prefecture

Some 156 artifacts, including 90 glass beads and 65 pieces of fused glass, were found at the site, the ruins of a castle town of Asakura clan warlords, the museum said. The beads have a hole in the center and measure between 2.5 and 4.5 mm in diameter. Kiln remains and parts of a bellows were also excavated at the site, the museum said.

It had been believed that glass products were imported in the Muromachi Period as domestic production of glass had been on the decline in Japan since the Nara Period (710-784). It appears now that glass beads were produced under the Asakura clan, the museum said.