Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory

Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism, 1st Edition

By Yuko Kikuchi


328 pages

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Conceptualised in 1920s Japan by Yanagi Sôetsu, the Mingei movement has spread world wide since the 1950s, creating phenomena as diverse as Mingei museums, Mingei connoisseurs and collectors, Mingei shops and Mingei restaurants. The theory, at its core and its adaptation by Bernard Leach, has long been an influential 'Oriental' aesthetic for studio craft artists in the West. But why did Mingei become so particularly influential to a western audience? And could the 'Orientalness' perceived in Mingei theory be nothing more than a myth? This richly illustrated work offers controversial new evidence through its cross-cultural examination of a wide range of materials in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese, bringing about startling new conclusions concerning Japanese modernization and cultural authenticity. This new interpretation of the Mingei movement will appeal to scholars of Japanese art history as well as those with interests in cultural identity in non-Western cultures.


'This book is a tour de force, and will become a standard reference in the West for many years to come - but in Japan … it's conclusions may have far reaching consequences' - Crafts 191

"Extraordinarily learned book…erudite and compelling study."--Fritz Levy, CAA.Reviews, April 25, 2005

Table of Contents

Part I - Orientalism: The Foundation of Mingei Theory Yanagi's Claims to Originality I.1. The Oriental-Occidental Hybrid of Philosophy and Religion I.2. Utopian Colonism, Primitivism and Orientalism I.3. 'Art of the People' and Medievalism: Ruskin, Morris and Japanese Peasant Art Movements I.4. Japanese Tea Masters Part II - Appropriation of Orientalism II.1 The Formation of Mingei Theory II.2 Modernity and Japanese Cultural and National Identity Part III - 'Oriental Orientalism' III.1 The Creation of 'Others' and Oriental Orientalism III.2 Korea: The Beauty of Sadness III.3 The Okinawans and the Ainu III.4 Taiwan and Northeast China/Manchuria III.5 Yanagi's Oriental Orientalism Part IV - Reverse Orientalism: The Development of Mingei Theory into National and International Modernism IV.1 Mystification of Mingei in Zen Buddhist Aesthetics IV.2 Mingei as Modern Visual Representation of Tea Aesthetics IV.3 Mingei Theory for Studio Crafts IV.4 Mingei for National Design: The Mingei-style for 'Japanese Modern' Design and Kurafuto IV.5 The Foundation and Deconstruction of the 'Leach Tradition' for the British Studio Craft Philosophy

About the Author

Yuko Kikuchi is a Research Fellow in Art and Design History at the London Institute, Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General