What is Fujimuratombodama KoBo?

Tombodama are a type of glass bead with a central hole.Through the skillful combination of different coloured glasses,the beads can be inlaid with various patterns and designs. {In fact, the word Tombodama literally means “dragonfly bead”,as they are thought to resemble the colours reflected in a dragonfly`s compound eye.}
Glass beads such as these were first made in the Eastern Mediterranean around 3500 years ago and the tradition was introduced into Japan via the Silk Road,through China and Korea,from around 300-700 AD. Domestic manufacture of Tombodama petered out during the Heian period (794-1185),but was revived for a second time during the Edo period(1603-1868),when various techniques for glass manufacture were reintroduced via the Dutch trading station in Nagasaki. Production flourished in Osaka and there is still an area in the city with the name Tamatsukuri, or”Bead Making”.These beads enjoyed great popularity in the Edo period as personal ornaments or decoration and were used widely for accessories such as hairpins or tobacco containers and many other objects.

What is Fujimuratombodama KoBo?

The tombodama have very intricate and beautiful patterns and deep, rich colours. The most challenging aspect to recreating the appearance of traditional tombodama is producing the necessary coloured glass.
At Fujimuratombodama KoBo, the basic glass is heated to around 800 degrees centigrade over the flame from a charcoal kiln. Various metal oxides are mixed with the glass to develop these striking and original colours. Melting the glass over an open flame removes its transparency and makes patterns stand out vividly from the surface.
More recently, gas-fired burners were widely introduced for the production of tombodama, but Fujimuratombodama KoBo still uses the same style of traditional charcoal kiln as was used during the Edo period. This process is quite different to one using a gas burner with a fixed temperature as the heat of the flame from a charcoal kiln has a rhythm of its own! Like the kiln of the traditiona potter, the process is not based on mathematical calculation, but instead upon the depth of knowledge, insight and experience that can be appreciated in the skilled handiwork of the craftsman.
Fujimuratombodama KoBo was founded in 1902 by the late Hideo Fujimura and his mastery of the tradition passed to his son Masumi, who succeeded him. The third generation is represented by Masumi`s three sons Toshiki, Hiroki and Shigeki who work alongside him in continuing the family tradition and ensuring the preservation of this traditional craft.

  • 二代目 藤村眞澄
  • Fujimuratombodama KoBo in the Japanese tradition of tombodama; intricately coloured and patterned glass beads. By continuing to use the time-honoured method of charcoal kilns and long-standing techniques of glass colouring and patterning, They are able to produce traditional handiwork of the very highest quality.

The Craft of Fujimuratombodama

  • step1

    Waiting for the flame to reach the right temperature to begin work

  • step2

    Rolling the coloured glass onto a steel rod

  • step3

    Sections of glass in various patterns are applied to the surface

  • step4

    Rounding off with a steel pallet

  • step5

    It`s finished !