Japan | Mingei International Museum

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


This stoneware tea bowl is brown with blue glaze over a diagonal texture design. The textured pattern was made by impressing rope into the damp clay prior to firing in the kiln. There is also an untextured circle on one side the bowl that exposes the stoneware overlaid with a white simplistic plant motif..

Tea Bowl (chawan)

2000 Japan

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.

A Group of Maneki Neko

Beckoning Cats (maneki neko)

20th Century Japan

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

These woven baskets are oval shaped and made from akebi vine. The akebi vine is a dark brown color. The weaving is loose enough to see through, but tight enough to hold items.

Two-Handled Baskets (akebi zuru)

Fourth quarter of the 20th century Japan

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

This photograph shows 5 different ainu prayer sticks. Each prayer stick has a different design and coloring, but all of them are long and slender, and about the same height.

Ainu Prayer Sticks (ikupasuy)

Mid 19th Century Japan

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

Painted on this ema, a small wooden plaque, is a white octopus with red highlights. The background of is painted light blue.

Japanese Votive Plaque (ema)

20th century Japan

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.

This sleeping garment (yogi) includes a lobster rising above a wave design on indigo dyed cloth. Above the lobster and wave is a circle outlining a triangular floral design.

Sleeping Garment (yogi)

19th century Meiji Period Japan

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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Explore folk art, craft, and design from across cultures and time.