Japanese art forms the core of the Museum’s mingei holdings, with more than 3,000 items.

Pottery, textiles and baskets were carefully created by unknown craftsmen and renowned artists. Also included are unusual and whimsical objects such as egg dolls, wooden votive paintings and beckoning cats.

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Tea Bowl (<em>chawan</em>) thumbnail

Tea Bowl (chawan)


Master potter Tatsuzō Shimaoka created the textured patterning on this stoneware tea bowl by impressing rope into the damp clay prior to firing the piece in the kiln.

Beckoning Cats (<em>maneki neko</em>) thumbnail

Beckoning Cats (maneki neko)

20th Century

These charming beckoning cats are not waving hello, but are giving a sign that one’s fortune could change.

Two-handled Baskets (<em>akebi zuru</em>) thumbnail

Two-handled Baskets (akebi zuru)

Fourth quarter of the 20th century

Woven akebi vine. The akebi vine is softened with water from hot springs until it becomes soft and pliable.

Ainu Prayer Sticks (<em>ikupasuy</em>) thumbnail

Ainu Prayer Sticks (ikupasuy)

Mid 19th Century

The indigenous Ainu of Hokkaido in Northern Japan used these wooden, sacred objects as a medium to send prayers to gods or spirits.

Japanese Votive Plaque (<em>ema</em>) thumbnail

Japanese Votive Plaque (ema)

20th century

This small wooden plaque would have been left at a Shinto or Buddhist shrine as a prayer. Supplicants believed that the octopus, with its many small suckers, could cure warts and various diseases and would give up eating it in exchange for recovery.

Sleeping Garment (<em>yogi</em>) thumbnail

Sleeping Garment (yogi)

19th century Meiji Period

The bold lobster and wave design on this indigo dyed yogi was created using the traditional tsutsugaki rice paste resist technique.

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Mingei of Japan

Explore all of the Museum's objects of folk art, craft and design from Japan. Lacquerware, books, prints, egg dolls and more...

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