Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism


Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961), Bernard Leach and Hamada Shoji are the golden trio of the Mingei (folkcrafts) movement. Regarded as the 'Oriental' movement, it began in Japan around the 1920s and has spread worldwide. It has created many Mingei phenomena such as Mingei museums, Mingei connoisseurs/collectors, Mingei shops and Mingei restaurants. The theory at its core and its adaptation by Leach, has long been an influential 'Oriental' aesthetic philosophy for studio craft artists in the West. But why did it become so influential? And is the 'Orientalness' in Mingei theory be nothing more than myth? This book offers controversial new evidence through its cross-cultural examination of a wide range of materials in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese, bringing startling conclusions about Japanese modernization and cultural authenticity.


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