Sep 15th
Nov 23rd
The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork

The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork

Two collections showcase Ainu artistry

By Elizabeth S    - 1 min read
Venue: Mingeikan When: Sep 15th - Nov 23rd 2020, 10:00am - 5:00pm

The Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Meguro, Tokyo, combines two collections of objects representing Ainu art and crafts.

The museum, known in Japanese as Mingeikan, dedicates its galleries to the presentation of mingei, or folk crafts. The collection of tens of thousands of pieces from all over the world. In permanent exhibitions, visitors can see English slipware and Korean ceramics. Of course, the collections include Japanese art, including antique ceramics and textiles from Tohoku, Okinawa, and other parts of Japan

The current exhibition brings together the museum's own collection and that of Soetsu Yanagi, art collector, and promoter of the mingei movement of the early 20th century. Yanagi, who founded the Mingeikan, brought Ainu works to the attention of the Japanese art world in 1941 when he presented Ainu crafts in the first exhibition of its kind.

In addition to the Ainu works on display, textiles by the dyer Serizawa Keisuke, a curator of that first exhibition, show the appreciation of the aesthetic of the Ainu artisans.

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Elizabeth S

Elizabeth S @elizabeth.scally

You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big city centers and tourist destinations. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too. 

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Geraldine Buergel a month ago
I haven't heard of the Ainu before, but their art sure looks interesting.
Bonson Lam 2 months ago
I went to Mingeikan a few years ago to research on some Ainu artefacts and yes this place is a rich treasure house of works from all around Japan, indeed from many parts of the world, as Yanagi san, the founder of the museum had a real interest in folk art and culture from many island nations around the Western Pacific. The geometric patterns of many Ainu handicrafts is mesmerising in its own way.
Elizabeth S Author a month ago
The symmetry and bold patterns of the Ainu people's art are really striking. I'm glad we have this resource for indigenous art.

The museum the collections are housed in is a treasure, too, as the nagayamon gate house was moved from Tochigi Prefecture. A lot of reverence for handcrafting here.
Kim 2 months ago
Really enjoying the designs and patterns in the photos!
Elena Lisina 2 months ago
It reminds the designs of North in our country. Here the image of cross meant the Sun.
Sleiman Azizi 2 months ago
Showcasing Ainu arts and crafts can represent a new era in the maturation of mainstream Japanese culture.
Sleiman Azizi 2 months ago
It's certainly an interesting one....