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Tokyo's Nihon Mingeikan & Mingei's relationship to Arts & Crafts

Japan's Daily Yomiuri includes an English-language edition, and a recent issue includes a short article by Robert Reed on Tokyo's Nihon Mingeikan, a small museum celebrating Mingei crafts and the life and work of Soetsu Yanagi, the founder of the Mingei movement. Mingei is sometimes associated with the Arts & Crafts movement by art historians who note both its chronological proximity to European A&C and its similar philosophical underpinnings (the recent International Arts & Crafts show, which originated at the Victoria & Albert and was at San Francisco's De Young Museum in the middle of 2006, included a model room based on Mingei crafts and made a strong case for that movement's inclusion as part of the 'International Arts & Crafts' milieu).

From the museum's website:

Located in Tokyo, the Mingeikan Museum is housed in a beautiful traditional Japanese building completed in 1936. Founded in the same year, the Mingeikan has over 17,000 items in its collection made by anonymous crafts people mainly from Japan, but also from China, Korea, England, Africa, and elsewhere.

Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961), the first director and founder of the Museum, coined the term Mingei (folk art) in 1926 to refer to common crafts that had been brushed aside by the industrial revolution. Yanagi and his lifelong companions, the potters Bernard Leach, Hamada Shoji, and Kawai Kanjiro, sought to counteract the desire for cheap mass-produced products by pointing to the works of ordinary crafts people that spoke to the spiritual and practical needs of life. The Mingei Movement is responsible for keeping alive many traditions.

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