On a nice Sunday in January, Nate and I decided to go check out some more sites around the Onna area. We visited Cape Manzamo, one of the most photographed, iconic spots on Okinawa by locals and tourists alike. In the 18th century, Sho Kei, a Ryukyuan King, said that the top of the cliff was like a field big enough for 10,000 people to sit. So the way it's written in Japanese kanji form, is for Manzamo to reflect this saying: 万 (Man - 10,000) 座 (Za - to sit) 毛 (Mo - field). The English translation is Cape Manzamo or Cape Manza.
This rock looks similar to an elephants trunk in my opinion and offers great views of the East China Sea.
After Cape Manza, we decided to go try another touristy activity on the island: glass blowing. Ryukyu glass dates back to the Meji era (about a century ago) and is now one of Okinawa's artisan specialties. After WWII, raw materials such as beer and soft drink bottles that were discarded by the US military bases and soldiers, were used by the Okinawan glass craftsmen since there was a shortage of materials due to the war. These unwanted glasses were melted down and shaped into glasses, vases, and dishes - each with a unique, distinctive appearance stemming from the imeprfections found in the glass itself. The Ryukyu glass popularity grew in the 1950s when the US forces became interested in the colorful items and commissioned products for use on their bases and even selling back home in the US.
There are many glass blowing studios on the island, but we headed over to the Onna Glass Studio to try our hands out on making our own unique glasses.
Inside the shop, there are many items available for purchase that range from glass sinks, glasses, vases, plates, flowers, and even decorative windows and doors.
There are 2 types of Ryukyu glass blowing techniques: free blowing and mold blowing. Free blowing involves putting molten glass on the tip of a long blowpipe and blowing from the other end of the pipe to inflate the glass. Mold blowing involves pouring molten glass into a mold and blowing. We opted for small glasses that used the free blowing technique with bubble glass, which involved a technique that causes random air bubbles in the glass. Other Ryukyu glasses may be clear or have different patterns.
Lucky for us, they have professionals on site, guiding you each step of the way while you create your product - because Nate and I had no clue. #notprofessionalglassblowers #butillpretendtobeforaday
Nate went first and chose a bubble glass made of his favorite color: green. He started with constantly rotating the pipe so the molten glass stayed in a circular form (and doesn't droop to one side), getting it extra hot in the kiln. Then he blew some air into it so it began to take shape.
Inflating the molten glass
Next, Nate continued to rotate the glass and the guides helped shape it while it cooled. They then broke it off so Nate could widen the opening and fix the overall shape.
Next, it was my turn! I opted for the color blue :)
Widening the opening
Now Nate and I have our own, unique, special Ryukyu glasses and we only had to wait one day to pick up our final product! Another fun day spent being a tourist on this beautiful island we call home :)
Follow in our Footsteps:
Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0411
Onna Glass Studio
85 Fuchaku, Onna Village, Okinawa 904-0413
098-965-3090 (call for reservations)
Hours: 8am - 10pm
Yen only (prices range from 2,000 yen and up)
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!