The Japanese spirit is present in all forms of art, but one place you might be surprised to find it is in the nation’s glassware.

“Japanese glasses: Stylish Vessels, Playful Shapes” is an exhibition at Tokyo Midtown that displays the beauty of glassware and accessories in different shapes used for various purposes.

Glass production in Japan has existed since the sixth century when people wore glass beads as accessories. Full-scale glassware production, however, began in the 17th century, during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Japanese glassware was influenced by the European glass vessels that Nanban ships (Spanish or Portuguese traders) brought to Japan. Since then, various everyday items, even those that are not usually made of glass such as insect cages, were made from glass materials. A lot of these peculiar glass items are rarely seen nowadays.

This exhibition shows how Japanese glassware affected the lives of people from the Edo Period to the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

Items on display include the “Beaded Inro (small nested caddy) and a Gourd-shaped Kiriko Cut-glass Netsuke Toggle” and “Beaded Hanging Lantern with Peony Design on Glass Panels” both from the 19th century.

“Japanese Glasses: Stylish Vessels, Playful Shapes” will be held at The Suntory Museum of Art from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. (till 6 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays) until May 23. It closes Tuesdays but will be open May 4. Admission is ¥1,300. For more information, visit suntory.jp/SMA/

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