20 October, 2011

Tombodama Making

I went to the Kobe Tombodama Museum, also known as the Kobe Lampwork Glass Museum, to make “tombodama”, or lampwork glass beads.


Kobe Tombodama Museum

Tombodama, or Dragonfly balls, were named because they resemble the eyes of dragonflies.
Long ago, the fire from a lamp was used to make these beads, so they are called lampwork beads in English.
Let’s try making them!

First, choose the color of beads and the parts that will go inside.

Materials for Tombodama

Choosing Tombodama's Parts

I chose light blue glass, and used blue and white flowers for parts.

Parts for Tombodama

Let’s start making tombodama. First, melt the glass stick with the burner.

Wrap the melted glass on a stainless steel stick. Can you see the glass melted like candy?

Once the glass is melted and soft, put the parts you chose inside the glass.

Put them over the fire again to melt the parts, and shape the glass until it is round.
I found out it takes skill to give it a nice rounded shape.

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to make one tombodama.
Once the glass cools down, you’re done!
It was so pretty, I can’t believe I actually made it myself.


The beads can be made into phone straps or necklaces.
I got mine made into a cell phone strap.

Inside the museum, there are many valuable glass beads on display, from ancient ones to ones that were made more recently. Enjoy the world of glass beads as you wait for your beads to cool down.

Many Valuable Collections

Museum Shop

Come and create your own unique tombodama!

Kobe Tombodama Museum
Address: 79 Kyomachi Chuo-ku, Kobe
Entrance Fee:   Adults (High School and older) \400
                      Elementary and Junior High School Students \200

Tombodama Making
Age: Elementary 3rd grade or older
Required Time: 10-25 minutes and 1 hour for cooling
Fee:  \1,200 for 1, \2000 for 2
For cell phone straps, add \500 and for necklaces, add \1,000

Next up is Japanese candle making! See you next time!!

PingHyogo Tourism Association)