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What Are Japanese Seed Beads?

Ten frequently asked questions about Japanese seed beads.


Japanese seed beads are very uniform in size and their finishes tend to be very durable, making them the perfect choice for your beaded jewelry projects. They come in a wide range of colors and finishes, so you are sure to find the perfect color.

1. What are Japanese seed beads?

Japanese seed beads are tiny glass beads that are made in Japan.

2. Who manufactures these seed beads?

There are three primary manufacturers of Japanese seed beads:
  • Miyuki Co., LTD
  • Matsuno Glass Beads Co.
  • Toho Co., LTD

Each of these manufacturers has a slightly different process for manufacturing their beads, so there will be slight variations in size and shape in the beads from each company. But because they are so similar in size and shape, you can easily mix beads from different manufacturers in the same project.

3. What do they look like?

Japanese seed beads are slightly larger than Czech seed beads and Japanese cylinder beads. They are more cylinder shaped than Czech seed beads, but still have very round edges. Their holes are large enough to allow several thread passes through each bead.

4. What sizes of Japanese seed beads are available?

Japanese seed beads are available in 15/0, 14/0, 11/0, 10/0, 9/0, 8/0, 6/0 and 5/0.

5. What colors are available?

Japanese seed beads have a truly incredible range of colors and are available in almost 900 different colors. You can find your basic opaque and transparent seed beads as well as color-lined, luster, metallic, matte, shimmering and gilt-lined.

6. How are they sold?

Most Japanese seed beads come in either small bags of around 8 – 10 grams or by the tube. Tubes can contain anywhere between 10 and 30 grams of beads, depending on the color and finish. Some sources also sell them in small plastic boxes, containing anywhere between 11 and 40 grams of beads.

7. Where are Japanese seed beads sold?

Japanese seed beads are widely available in almost every local bead shop and internet source. For a wonderful variety of colors, finishes and sizes, try some of the internet sources listed below.

8. What stitches work best with Japanese seed beads?

Since the holes of Japanese seed beads are relatively large, they can accommodate several thread passes. Try peyote stitch, herringbone stitch and right angle weave with your favorite colors of Japanese seed beads to make beautiful art jewelry.

9. What else can I use Japanese seed beads for?

Japanese seed beads are wonderful spacer beads when used with fine gemstone beads. They make wonderful embellishments for fringe and beaded ropes.

10. How much do Japanese seed beads cost?

Japanese seed beads are relatively inexpensive averaging about $2 for a tube of 30 grams. Be prepared to pay more for the metallic, precious metal plated, and metallic matte varieties, anywhere up to $17 or more for a tube of 30 grams.

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