The Guest Curator and Exhibition Designer, Sori Yanagi, Sôetsu’s son, is one of Japan’s foremost industrial designers and President/Director of the Mingeikan. The exhibition was sponsored by an anonymous donor and supplemented by grants from Fujikura Composite America, Inc. and Mr. Kimio Yamanoi. The exhibition was funded in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program.

A catalogue, MINGEI — Two Centuries of Japanese Folk Art, published by the Japan Folk Crafts Museum , accompanied the exhibition.

In the 1920s, Japanese scholar and aesthetician Dr. Sôetsu Yanagi recognized the unsurpassed beauty of objects created for daily use and coined the word mingei by combining the Japanese min (all people) and gei (art) to describe these arts of all people. To communicate this profound insight, Dr. Yanagi and the renowned potters Shôji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai founded the Mingei Association of Japan and, in Tokyo, the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.

The exhibition was composed of 140 objects chosen by Sôetsu Yanagi for the Mingeikan’s permanent collection. Many were from the 19th century and included some of the finest objects used in Japanese daily life: kimono, fireman’s coats, raincapes, ceramics, tools and domestic utensils, chests, screens, scrolls, folk paintings and shop signs. They were made of wood, metal, paper, lacquer and natural fibers.

Films on traditional crafts of Japan played continuously during the run of the exhibition. The Icarus Puppet Company conducted performances of “The Crane Daughter,” based on a Japanese legend and using Bunraku style puppets.

Hahn Family Foyer, Cornell Rotunda, Pardee Grand Plaza Gallery and Plaza Gallery


On View: Feb 28, 1999 - Aug 01, 1999

Curator: Sori Yanagi

More Exhibitions


Arline Fisch

One of a Kind

Featuring jewelry, body ornaments and a collection of knitted and crocheted wire hanging flowers and sea creatures by internationally-renowned artist, Arline Fisch.

June 17, 2017 - January 7, 2018


Indonesian Shadow Puppets

An intimate exhibition in the Museum’s Theater Gallery featuring a selection of shadow puppets from Indonesia.

July 19, 2017 - March 18, 2018


Art of the Americas

Pre-Columbian Art from Mingei's Collection

Part of the Getty Center-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, this exhibition offers the most comprehensive presentation to date of the Museum’s significant holdings of objects used by people from the ancient cultures of Mexico, Central and South America.

September 16, 2017 - February 18, 2018



Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal

Featuring approximately 40 kantha (decorative stitched quilting made from recycled sari) from the Museum's permanent collection.

October 28, 2017 - March 25, 2018


Weaving a Path

Navajo Women and the Feminine Ethos

December 9, 2017 - May 20, 2018