Nestled among office buildings in Tokyo’s Shinbashi district is a glass museum packed with historical information and shimmering displays.
“People may think they know everything about glass, but that’s not always true,” said Toshiaki Uematsu, a curator of the Gendai Garasu no Hakubutsukan, or museum of modern glass.
“We want many people to know what kinds of products are made of glass.”
Exhibits at the 130-sq.-meter museum start with familiar glass tableware, which is made of chemical compositions or crystal, as well as glass bottles.
Tableware, bottles and glass sheets account for about 90 percent of all glass products in Japan, Uematsu said.
The museum features state-of-the-art technology, including optical fiber used for telecommunications, flat sheet glass for liquid crystal display screens, and glass for artificial bones and teeth.
As the high-tech uses of glass are generally less obvious, many people do not know that the source of some products is glass, Uematsu said.
Sponsored by the Glass Manufacturers’ Association of Japan and cosponsored by six glass associations, the museum opened in 1990 as the country’s first museum to display glass products covering the whole industry, the curator said.
To help boost awareness, the museum showcases a number of 3-D glass jigsaw puzzles, such as those in the shape of a beer mug, an iced tea glass and a container of “umeboshi” pickled plums.
Visitors can try to assemble the puzzles.
In one corner of the museum, there are tables at which visitors can carve their own designs on pieces of glass using a compact drill.
“We also want visitors to enjoy touching various glass materials,” Uematsu said.
Of the 8,000 visitors to the museum last year, 1,600 to 1,700 were students on school excursions from outside the metropolitan area, Uematsu said.
Close to the entrance, visitors can enjoy listening to melodies such as “Edelweiss” and “Do-Re-Mi,” created by striking notes on glass bottles of various sizes.
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