The Mingei Storehouse,  Bungendore, NSW, Australia. The Mingei Storehouse, Bungendore, NSW, Australia.

The Japanese term mingei literally means 'ordinary people’s craft'. It is used for the Mingei movement, the Japanese version of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Mingei movement started in the 1920's and was led by the Japanese philosopher, Soetsu Yanagi (1889-1961). 

Mingei was deeply influenced by its western Arts and Crafts Movement predecessors, such as John Ruskin and William Morris (1880's). Yanagi, together with Kanjiro Kawai and Shoji Hamana, found beauty in ordinary crafts for daily use and gave them the name mingei. They argued that true beauty could be found only in the objects made by unknown people, in a spirit of selfless innocence and in close harmony with nature.

Yanagi officially declared the start of the Mingei Movement in 1926. His collection of furniture, paintings, pottery and textiles, was used to found the Japan Folk Craft Museum in Tokyo in 1936. During this period, Japan was facing rapid westernization and industrialization and Mingei helped to assert a new sense of Japanese national identity. Through this movement, artists and crafters helped to preserve works and raise the standard of traditional artisanal crafts.

Other craftsmen and women involved with this movement were Bernard Leach (1887-1979, a British potter who lived in Japan), Keisuke Serizawa (1895-1984, a fabric stencil dyer), Kuroda Tatsuaki (1904-1982, wood worker and lacquerer), Munakata Shiko (1902-1975, painter and wood block printing). Thanks to this movement many threatened Japanese and indigenous needlework forms such as hishizashi, kogin and sashiko, and Ainu clothes were preserved.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 29 June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 02 October 2016 11:49