About the Exhibition

Local and Modern

Why is Mingei, the Folk Crafts Movement that originated in the early 20th century, the focus of so much attention nowadays? Is it because people are concerned with design for more fulfilling lifestyles? Or because of interest in the local color and handcrafting traditions that endure in various regions of Japan? Whatever the reason, the new aesthetic vision conceived by Yanagi Muneyoshi (Soetsu), Hamada Shoji and Kawai Kanjiro nearly a hundred years ago remarkably continues to inspire people today.

The term “Mingei” was coined in late December 1925, and almost a century (96 years, to be exact) has passed since the conceptual seeds of Mingei were sown. This exhibition, 60 years after the death of founder Yanagi Muneyoshi, will show Mingei’s endeavors, which evolved over the years, in a new light while offering a comprehensive picture of the movement.

This exhibition showcases an array of functional utensils, including ceramics, textiles, woodwork, straw garments, baskets, and colanders, and folk paintings such as Otsu-e, collected by Yanagi and others, as well as publications, photographs, and films from the time, illuminating Mingei and its internal and external social, historical, and economic context through more than 400 works and materials.

Of particular note are Mingei’s modern approach to the processes of “editing,” primarily in the three fields of museum administration, publishing, and distribution, and the movement’s local networks that linked people, goods, and information in various regions and promoted collaboration. The Mingei project expanded beyond the collection of aesthetically pleasing objects to the creation of systems including the production and distribution of newly made folk crafts, addressing social issues such as improvement of standards of living in rural areas, new ideas for food, clothing, and shelter, and preservation of scenery. Today, when the end of the “modern” era has already become old news, what does a sustainable society and lifestyle look like? With this exhibition we re-examine the potential of the Folk Crafts Movement, which identified already existing local resources and reorganized relationships among people, goods, and information, from the perspective of a museum of modern art.

  • Habiro Iron Kettle, Yamagata Prefecture,
    c. 1934, The Japan Folk Crafts Museum
  • Bow-back, splat-type arm chair, England, 19th century,
    The Japan Folk Crafts Museum


Slipware bowl with hen design, England,
latter 18th century, The Japan Folk Crafts Museum


  • 1.

    Traces relationships between Mingei’s changes over time and Japanese society

    What was the historical context of Mingei’s emergence and evolution? From the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, growth of the railway network, the rise of tourism to war and the Japanese nation-state, and rapid postwar economic growth, the Folk Crafts Movement is inextricably linked to modernization and its development has paralleled major milestones in society. This exhibition reveals various reasons Mingei is drawing renewed attention today.

  • 2.

    Portrait of Yanagi Soetsu at work: analysis of his design and editing methods

    Yanagi was a philosopher of religion who focused on writing as he spearheaded the Folk Crafts Movement, but in fact he was a highly talented artist as well. He showed his gift for design and editing in various fields, sketching the objects he collected, designing fonts, cropping and arranging photographs, making drawings for buildings and products, and creating mountings for Otsu-e and other paintings. The exhibition explores Yanagi’s “handiwork” and how it revealed and conveyed his aesthetic sense through various media.

  • 3.

    From food, clothing and shelter to scenic preservation

    Three-piece tweed suits, bow ties, round glasses, samue (Buddhist monks’ workwear) worn in the studio: those associated with Mingei were a stylish group. Mingei was also involved with cuisine including shabu-shabu hot pot, Japanese-style curry, and local specialty sweets. The movement is well known for architecture involving aspects of traditional Japanese houses and incorporation of Windsor chairs and Japanese-Korean-Western fusion into interior design, but did you know that Mingei was also committed to preserving the scenery of the Tottori Sand Dunes?


  • Title

    100 Years of Mingei: The Folk Crafts Movement

  • Date

    October 26, 2021–February 13, 2022

  • Time

    10:00-17:00 ( Fridays and Saturdays open until 20:00 )
    *Last admission : 30 minutes before closing.

  • Closed

    Mondays (except January 10, 2022), from December 28 to January 1, 2022, and January 11, 2022

  • Location

    The National Museum of Modern Art, TokyoWEB SITElaunch
    Special Exhibition Gallery (1st floor) , Gallery 4 (2nd floor)

  • Access

    A 3-minute walk from 1b exit, Takebashi station (T-08), Subway Tozai Line

  • Organizers

    The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
    NHK, NHK Promotions Inc.,The Mainichi Newspapers

  • Sponsors

    Nissha Co., Ltd., Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited

  • Special Cooperation

    The Japan Folk Crafts Museum

  • Telephone Inquiry


  • Inquiries for
    News coverage

    “100 Years of Mingei: The Folk Crafts Movement” Publicity Office


Adults ¥1,800
College / University students ¥1,200
High School students ¥700

  • Same-day tickets can be purchased at the National Museum of Modern Art,Tokyo ticket counters, while online tickets with a designated date and time can be purchased on this official exhibition website.
    Online purchase : e-tixlaunch(available from October 14, 10:00-)
  • All prices include tax.
  • Admission is free for Junior High School students, under 15, and those with Disability Certificates and one caregiver accompanying each of them. Please present ID at the entrance.
  • Including the admission fee for MOMAT Collection.


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