After visiting it a few weeks ago, I would say that Inawashiro’s World Glassware Hall (世界のガラス館) is pretty underrated as a spot for tourists to visit.
The World Glassware Hall exhibits over 25,000 items of carefully designed and handcrafted glass from all around the world. A majority of the glassware on display is for sale, giving the Glassware Hall the appearance of a huge shop when you first step inside, but there is information on the origin of the works, so it’s pretty interesting to wander round and compare different styles!
As well as being a good place to stop buy and browse for souvenirs during a visit to Inawashiro, the World Glassware Hall actually has a number of really awesome activities for visitors to try out.
- Time Needed: Around 30 minutes
- Price: From 4,500 yen (Including tax)
- Age Limit: 11 years old +
A local glass artisan called Shibata san will guide you through the steps of glass-blowing, allowing you to customize your own unique glass.
I chose to make a glass with little crack designs, which Shibata san helped me create by dropping the glass in room-temperature water and taking it out very quickly. I also gave my glass the effect of having little bubbles in it, which we did by spraying the hot glass with cold water droplets.
Shibata san is very modest about her English ability, but she can speak pretty well – definitely well enough to explain the process to visitors.
It was really exciting getting to see a real glass artisan at work, and was amazing to make my own unique glass (although, to be honest, she did most of the work and corrected any mistakes I made with my terrible technique!)
This experience might be a little tight to fit into a trip to Japan, as the finished product can take up to 2 weeks to be shipped to you – and can only be shipped within Japan 😦 However if you’re staying for over 2 weeks or have a friend in Japan who can send it to you later on, I definitely recommend this experience!
For those who’d like to try out this experience, I would recommend making sure you’re hydrated before you start, as the furnace in the glass-blowing studio is extremely hot (over 1,000 degrees) meaning that you get very, very hot during the whole process.
Shibata san may not be available on specific dates and some days might get busy with bookings, so I recommend booking in advance over the phone at the number listed on this page: +81-242-63-0100. You can book in advance up until 3pm the day before you’d like to visit.
- Time Needed: Around 30 minutes
- Price: 1,080 yen (including tax)
- Age Limit: Elementary age kids should be supervised
This was super fun! Choose from a range of glass shapes and sizes before choosing your design. There are pre-made designs to pick from, or you can get creative and make something completely unique. Once you have picked (or drawn) your design, you tape it to the inside of your glass, tracing over the design with a black pen, and then use a glass-etching tool (reminded me of visits to the dentist) to carve the design onto the glass.
Two tips to remember when you are doing this:
- Don’t press the tool onto the glass at a 90 degree angle. The tool will slide off uncontrollably; ruining your design and potentially hurt your hand. Keep the etching tool at a shallow angle when sketching on the surface of the glass.
- Keep going over the design until you can’t see any black pen left. If there are still pen marks remaining, your design might not be etched deep enough onto the surface.
I am a huge fan of pugs and there just so happened to be a cartoon of a pug as one of the pre-made designs. Talk about fate! When choosing my glass type, I decided to etch my cute pug design onto the side of a whisky glass. It seemed like the obvious choice.
It takes as long as you’d like it to and I can imagine kids and adults of all ages getting absorbed into creating their design. In no time at all you and your loved ones could be making intense faces of concentration as shown in the photo below:
What’s more, you can take your glass home with you the day of your visit! There are plenty of tables and chairs for visitors so you are likely to just be able to turn up and do the etching experience on the day without having to book in advance.
More Information about visiting the World Glassware Hall
- Admission Fee: Free!
- Opening Hours: 9:30-17:30 (open all year round)
- Getting There:
- A 6 minute taxi ride from Inawashiro Station (See here for info on reaching Inawashiro Station).
- You can also reach the hall by bus from Inawashiro Station. Take a bus heading to Kin no Hashi / Aizu Recreation Park (金の橋・会津レクリエーション公園行き) and get off at the stop for Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Museum (野口英世記念館前). From there, the World Glass Hall is just a couple of minutes on foot.
- Fukushima Prefecture Tourism’s Page on the World Glassware Hall
- My blog page about other places to visit in Inawashiro Town