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An Izumi Tombodama Craftsman Working to Preserve Japanese Culture

This video, titled "#118 Izumi Tombodama Craftswoman – Matsuda Yuki - Door to Tomorrow by At Home" (#118 和泉蜻蛉玉職人 松田 有綺 | 明日への扉 by アットホーム) by "Door to Tomorrow by At Home," is from a television program broadcast on tv in July, 2019.

This 20-minute long video was originally broadcast in four parts and we highly recommend watching it if you're interested in any of the following:
・Learning more about the restoration of the national treasures of Byodoin Temple in Kyoto.
・Gaining insight into how traditional Japanese glass beads ("Tombodama") are made.
・Learning more about the Izumi Tombodama craftsman who is working hard to preserve Japanese culture.

Yuki Matsuda (松田有綺), the craftswoman featured in the video, continues to work hard acquire the skills necessary to pass on Japanese culture to future generations.
You can see Yuki Matsuda from 1:31 in the video.
In this article, we'll go over how Japan's Tombodama are made and how the Tombodama found in Kyoto's Byodoin Temple have been restored, alongside the video.

Restoring the National Treasures of Kyoto's Byodoin Temple

The glass beads found in the base of the wooden Amitabha statue found in Byodoin Temple's Hoodo hall (鳳凰堂) were part of a decoration called a "Yoraku" (瓔珞) that used to hang in the area surrounding the Buddha statue. You can see the beautiful glass beads from 0:58 in the video.
They are thought to have been made in the same workshop as the items stored in Shosoin (正倉院), athe treasure house of Todaiji Temple in Nara.

The beads of the Yoraku decoration mentioned above were restored by Osaka craftswomen Yuriko Matsuda (松田有利子).
You can take a look at the restored glass beads at 1:32 in the video.

The glass stored in the Sangetsu Kobo Workshop (山月工房) were found to be similar in composition to the glass glass beads from Kyoto, which have been designated national treasures, and was therefore used in the restoration project.

How are Izumi Tanbodama Glass Beads Made?

First, the glass is heated and stretched into long threads which are then broken into smaller pieces to create the glass used to decorate the beads.

The glass bead making process is as follows:
・A metal rod coated with a stripping agent (剥離剤) is heated
・Several glass rods are then heated together
・The softened glass rods are then wrapped around the metal rod
・Small pieces of broken glass are then attached to create a particular design
・A tool is used to manipulate the shape of the glass and create a design on the outside of the bead
・The finished bead is cooled by covering it in ash

You can watch the whole process from 6:52 in the video as Izumi Tanbodama craftswoman Yuki Matsuda demonstrates how the glass beads are made from start to finish.

Izumi Tanbodama Items Available For Purchase

Jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets as well as traditional Japanese clothing items and accessories like Obidome (帯留め, obi sash clips), Kanzashi (簪) and Netsuke straps (根付ストラップ) are just some of the glass bead items available for purchase.
There are also items made from glass similar to that of the glass beads found in Byodoin Temple in Kyoto, with prices varying depending on the method used to make the beads.
For example, an incense holder made from glass similar to that of the National Treasures in Kyoto costs around 5000 yen.

Summary of Izumi Tanbodama Glass Beads

Image of Byodoin Temple's Phoenix Hall, Kyoto
Photo:Byodoin Temple's Phoenix Hall, Kyoto

From 16:12 in the video, you can watch the craftswomen as they visit Byodoin Temple in Kyoto to take a look at the National Treasures they themselves restored.
Yuki Matsuda speaks of how she hopes to use her craft to create not only beautiful objects, but memories to go with those objects.
If you are interested in Japanese culture or wish to know more about how Izumi Tombodama are made, we highly recommend you watch the video!

Written By
Sep. 13, 2021
Japan
ひろ(HIRO)
I'm a writer who likes to eat good food wherever I go
Glass Beads Left Behind in Byodoin Temple in Kyoto Restored By an Izumi Tombodama Craftsman! The Brightly Colored Tombodama Glass Beads Are so Beautiful They've Been Compared To Miniature Glass Universes!
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