Glassmaking in Osaka
In 1884 the glassworks at Shinagawa was sold by the Meiji government to a Japanese investor and British influence ceased at Shinagawa. Two of the British instructors moved to a private glassworks at Osaka, Elijah Skidmore (crucible maker) and James Speed (glass craftsman and instructor).
This was a flint glassworks that had recently been opened by Ito Keishin, an entrepreneur who wanted to make western-style glass. Under the company name Nihon Garasu Kaisha (Japan Glass Company) the factory was popularly known as ‘Little Shinagawa’ because a great number of Shinagawa apprentices went there with Skidmore and Speed.
Skidmore travelled around Japan looking for suitable fireclay for Ito, eventually finding it at Shigaraki, and returned to England some time in 1884/1885. It is not known exactly when Speed went home but according to Japanese records he gave instruction at Ito’s factory for a few months during 1883, perhaps going home soon after.
Shimada Magoichi went on to found a glassmaking business in the Osaka area which stayed in his family for three generations. After some brief success with sheet glass in about 1902 he returned to tableware. The modern company Toyo-Sasaki Glass traces its history back to Shimada and to his teacher James Speed on its website Toyo-Sasaki Glass, and Toyo Glass Co., Ltd. also has a direct link to Shimada.