A celebrated glass artist in Japan, 辻和美 Kazumi Tsuji has made her name and work known to an international audience in major cities including New York, Paris, Toronto and Taipei thanks to her solo exhibitions hosted by local galleries, and larger scale joint exhibitions such as the 2015 佇まい Tatazumai exhibition hosted by the MUJI brand. Ms. Tsuji lives and runs her own glassmaking studio and gallery under the name of Factory Zoomer in Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan).

In addition to creating mouth-blown glass utensils, Ms. Tsuji is the chief director of the 生活工芸 Seikatsu Kogei project – a movement that started in Kanazawa with the aim of getting users and creators to think of the importance of the handcrafted objects that exist in our daily lives. In a book published in September 2015 for an exhibition at MUJI FORUM DES HALLES PLACE CARREE in Paris, Ms. Tsuji made the following comment about the handcrafted objects which resonated with me:


“There is something in the very things we use repeatedly on a daily basis that slowly, deeply permeates the user’s physical being. They are unimportant things, but for some reason, we strongly believe in the power of daily necessities. I believe that people actually physically experiencing things helps them to grow. Eating. Wearing. Living. Praying. Learning. Loving. Carrying out these human actions properly. As someone who create things, how wonderful it would be to be able to have an impact on this.”


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It was truly a pleasure to be Ms. Tsuji’s guest at her tea gathering event at the 日本生活器物展 Living Crafts Beside Life exhibition held in Taipei in November 2018. Rather than dressing in subtle black like the other artists hosting the event, Ms. Tsuji made a fashion statement with a bomber jacket that had a bird and a tiger image in front. The animal images on her jacket immediately communicated a sense of free spirit, independence, fierceness, directness, speed and courage – qualities that are unique to her and were noted on some of her interviews on the internet.  

Ms. Tsuji prepared a green/non-oxidized tea and red/fully oxidized tea using a ceramic cup with a glass lid for infusion, and a glass pitcher to serve tea into glass teacups. Ms. Tsuji mentioned that her glass utensils could tolerate high and low temperature. However, if it experienced a rapid change in temperature, the glass would break. I think that was one reason, along with her concern about user experience, she had invited a ceramic artist in Japan to handcraft the ceramic cup to accompany her glass lid to create the gaiwan-like infusion tool. 

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It was an definitely enjoyable experience for me. In addition to experiencing Ms. Tsuji’s beautiful glass work for the first time, I had the opportunity to taste the tea she prepared, a snack of the infused gyokuro tea leaves with yuzu sauce, and sweets she brought from her hometown Kanazawa. I also heard stories from two young female Taiwanese glass artists, who were in attendance at the same session, about their experience from learning and working for Ms. Tsuji. It was incredible to know about Ms. Tsuji’s passion for sharing her knowledge and experience with young artists from other countries. 

The biggest takeaway for me from taking part in this event was Ms. Tsuji’s interpretation of handcraft as art which has the power to heal our hearts, comfort our soul and offer us energy to keep going. Her ability to articulate the intimate relationship between the user and the object created a lasting memory for me.