The Okutsu Valley in Kagaminocho (Okayama Prefecture) is famous for its fantastic autumn colors. But, lovely though they are, that’s not the end of the story; the area also has a peculiar art museum called Fairywood Glass Museum and an art gallery called ELEKTROKARDIOGRAM.
Glass That Glows Like Fairies
Fairywood Glass Museum is located in the Kamisaibara region about 10 minutes drive north of Okutsu Valley. The uranium glass exhibited there glows fluorescently under ultra-violet light. As it is said to resembles fairies, it also goes by the name of “fairy-glass”.
This yellow-green colored uranium glass was invented in the 1800s.
It glows brightly when hit by ultra-violet light (in the dark).
Mixing uranium with cobalt, copper, gold, silver or other metals produces a wide array of colors. Mr. Hatakeyama, the museum director, tells me that the manufacturing of uranium glass started in Bohemia in the 1830s and spread to other places in Europe and America soon after. Apparently, uranium was used as a coloring agent. The only place in Japan where uranium ore could be extracted from the ground was at Ningyo Pass here in Kagaminocho. However, as the ore content and deposits were very small, a mine was never constructed and extraction ended after a few decades. Uranium collected during that period is used in the glass that is being made here now.
Next to the museum there’s a studio where uranium glass is made (as in the photo above). Visitors can also take a glass blowing lesson on Saturdays and Sundays (from the end of July to the end of August). How about creating your very own unique piece of glass art?
The Ever-Changing Art Gallery
ELEKTROKARDIOGRAMM (or EKG) is currently one of the hottest art spots in Kagaminocho. The aim of the gallery is to allow visitors to come and experience art that stimulates the curiosity.
Artists come and use their imagination to color the gallery’s white walls. Since the walls change every exhibition, you will definitely not get tired of coming back again and again. Every now and then, some visitors even ask if the gallery is currently being refurbished!
Mr. Izuna, the gallery owner, says, ”The space changes according to each individual artist’s personality, so it’s hard to imagine what the next exhibition will be like. And that’s what’s interesting!” He says that he used to want to be an artist himself, but now only enjoys this ever-changing space. However, this tasteful exhibition space is the creation of a person with deep knowledge of art, architecture and space design.
In October 2016, Toyama Prefecture-based glass artist Ami Hirose exhibited her work “First L kara no Shotaijo”, and in November the Okutsu Onsen Hanabijin Village held the “Cabaret Lounge Market”.
There are many, many events scheduled throughout December! Please check out the webpages for more information and come and have a look for yourself!
Fairywood Glass Museum
Address: 666-5 Kamisaibara, Kagaminocho, Tomata District, Okayama Prefecture
Closed: Tuesdays (if Tuesday is a public holiday, closed the following day) and at the end of the year.
Admission: Adults & university students 500 yen – high school students 400 yen – junior high school & elementary school children 300 yen – children younger than elementary school age free-of-charge.
Separate fees for glass-blowing (advanced reservation required)
Address: 165-5 Teramoto, Kagaminocho, Tomata District, Okayama Prefecture
Open: 11:00 – 18:00 during exhibition periods
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Chiaki Sawasaka
Chiaki Sawasaka Born in Okayama Prefecture. Returned home in 2010. I used to work as a systems engineer, but since coming back, I have been working on producing local magazines, organization advertising, and organization management. I love discovering stunning natural phenomena that stops me in my tracks, and warmhearted people filled with kindness. I’m going to do my best to write about and convey interesting information on the good places, good people, and good things in and around Okayama.
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