Raising a glass to Tokyo KIMOTO GLASSWARE CO., LTD.

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Category: Japanese Design & Daily goods

Traditional looks, modern style

The Japanese aesthetic is one that continues to enchant the world with its simplicity and sleekness. While those near and far revel in the beauty of Japan's art and style through a seemingly endless array of mediums-from fashion and food to flower arrangements and furniture-the nation's craft in glass maintains a prominence in the public consciousness that cannot be shattered.

Kimoto Glassware, one of Japan's leading manufacturers, has played a key role in emphasizing Tokyo's historical reputation as the country's glass mecca.

Established over 80 years ago, Kimoto was originally a wholesale distributor, negotiating with glassmakers and factories, and marketing their products to stores. Since then, the company has evolved to become a leading glassware producer and works with local designers and artists to create crafts that are one of a kind in style and technique.

The resulting look, which embodies cherished Japanese sensibilities while giving the traditional aesthetic a distinctive 21st century update, has grabbed the attention of consumers worldwide, landing Kimoto on the shelves of upscale department stores such as Barneys New York and Isetan.

Kimoto Glassware President and CEO Seiichi Kimoto

The Kiki Japanesque Modern series

Modernizing old styles

Kimoto's "Kiki Japanesque Modern" series, designed by noted illustrator Shinichiro Kinoshita, has been turning many heads. The sophisticated set of drinking glasses is adorned with monochromatic black and clear colors that evoke the spirit of the Edo era, with a mix of contemporary minimalism. The series' uniqueness lies in its use of Edokiriko-a traditional glass-making style wherein vessels are crafted with two layers: an external shell that displays the patterns and designs, and a simple layer on the interior.

The Edokiriko series also uses pure black glass, which involves a meticulous and costly process of tinting the glass in its melted state with rare metals, igniting a chemical reaction that completely darkens the matter. Most black glass on the market simply appears black through the layering of ever darker shaded glass.

"We wanted to bring Edokiriko to the new era," says Seiichi Kimoto, Kimoto Glassware's president and CEO. However, he didn't want to use the term itself, explaining how it evoked an image of Japan from days gone by. "The 'Japanesque Modern' look is an internationally sought-after look, but nobody was capturing it with glass. So Kinoshita and I decided to do it."

Also captivating is the Funew line, which reincarnates wine bottles into dishes, glasses and plates, while keeping their shape intact: a true statement on Japan's affinity for design and practicality.

The glass mecca

In addition to promoting Japanese design, Kimoto seeks to remind the world of Tokyo's historical significance in glassware.

"It is a little-known fact that Tokyo has been Japan's glass capital since the Meiji era, and we want to remind people of that," says Kimoto. "So we don't want to be recognized as just 'made in Japan'-but as 'made in Tokyo.'"

The Funew series