In folk crafts we can find healthy and normal beauty most richly than in any other kind of art… I say more positiverly that in these folk crafts we can even find the standard of beauty, just as we can find the essence of faith in humble people without knowledge.
-Soetsu Yanagi, 1889-1961

The Mingei, or Folk Craft, Movement was founded in Japan in the early 1900’s by Soetsu Yanagi and other 20th Century craft icons such as the potters Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Tomimoto Kenkichi, and Kanjiro Kawai; textile dyer Keisuke Serizawa, and woodblock print artist Shiko Munakata. Like the European and American Bauhaus and Arts & Crafts Movements, Mingei proponents espoused the spiritual and humanitarian importance of hand crafts at a time when the Industrial Revolution was rapidly changing not only the way that objects of daily use were made, but also the way in which daily life was lived.

Soetsu Yanagi’s Mingei Biron (Folk Craft Theory) also promoted the superiority of Craft (over fine art) based on Buddhist ideas such as tariki (the “Other Power” of tradition) over jiriki (the “Self Power” of individual artists,) the detachment of ego practiced by unknown craftsmen, the freedom of limitations and irregularity, and the notion of non-dualism, or a world “Beyond Beauty & Ugliness.”

These theories have had their fans and critics over the years, but they have undoubtedly helped to preserve and promote craft traditions that were in danger of extinction. Mingei objects have also taught and inspired countless contemporary artists with their tradition and aesthetics. Our collection features Mingei objects that we feel indebted to for their special form of beauty.

WaSabiDou is owned by Tatsuo Tomeoka whose interest lies in bridging East and West through the sharing of culture and through the focus on the borderless and timeless beauty of mingei. He is a frequent speaker to college classes and art groups on the topics of Mingei Theory and Aesthetics, Japanese Tea, and Woodblock Prints. He has also produced several cultural, music, and art events in the Pacific NW and a World Music concert tour in Japan. Please visit our blog for information on these and other activities, in addition to sale updates and news.