If you are looking for some stylish frames, Japan has some of the leading designs in eye wear and sunglasses. What is lesser known, however, is that more than 96% of Japanese-made glasses frame production and designs in Japan come from Fukui Prefecture. Sabae City is the heart of this production and have appropriately setup the Megane (glasses) Museum to display the rich history of glasses in Japan.
Starting out in the Megane Museum, visitors go through a gallery of antique glasses from around the world. The evolution of glasses from hand-held devices to frames that rest on the face is quite fascinating. The earliest spectacles were introduced to Japan in the late 16th century from China and Japan began its own production of glasses in the late 17th century. Glasses production started in Sabae City around the year 1905 when the cold winters and deep snows of the region gave ample time for farmers to pick up additional trades. The museum brilliantly displays the traditional craft of eyeglass manufacturing by showing the development of glasses production over the last 100 years.
Also located within the Megane Museum is the Glasses Shop where visitors can view the latest and most popular frames produced throughout Japan. This large and modern glasses store gathers frames from the top 40 manufacturers around Fukui Prefecture and exhibits over 3,000 of the latest in cutting edge and retro eye wear. Opticians are on hand to assist with vision tests and finding the perfect fit for all face sizes. In Tokyo, Glasses Gallery 291 located in Minami-Aoyama is another option to view and sample the frames of Fukui Prefecture.
On the second floor of the museum is an experience workshop area. This can be a great activity for those who want to fully control their eye wear selection. Here, visitors have the option of making their own handmade glasses or a novelty glasses key chain in a spacious classroom with supervision. The key chain activity takes about one hour and uses the same material as the frames in a miniature glasses creation activity. For the full course activity, you will need to set aside five to seven hours and reserve in advance via phone or online form as the glasses making experience includes several steps such as material selection, filing and polishing. The price for glasses making is 18,900 yen and the key chain activity is 500 yen.
A few other convenient locations within the Megane Museum include Sabae Sweets, where local snacks such as cookies in the shape of glasses frames can be purchased and the Museum Cafe which serves tea, coffee, lunch sets and desserts. The Museum and Glasses shop is open from 10:00am to 7:00 pm every day, closed on Japanese holidays.