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Discussion Paper 8 in 2008
First published in ejcjs on 28 October 2008

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The Anxiety of Influence

Ambivalent Relations Between Japan's 'Mingei' and Britain's 'Arts and Crafts' Movements


Wendy Jones Nakanishi

Professor of English Literature
Shikoku Gakuin University

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Cultural exchange has existed as long as people have been able to travel to countries not their own, to experience the art native to those places, and to convey samples of it back to their own homes. Any artist, including not only the poets whose plight was so memorably captured in Harold Bloom's phrase, but also painters and potters, can be influenced, whether consciously or not, by contact with precursors, from wherever they might hail (1).

This paper will explore the ambivalent relationship between the 'Arts and Crafts' movement, that originated in Britain and spread to continental Europe and North America, holding sway from the 1880s until the First World War, and the Japanese movement it arguably inspired and undoubtedly influenced. This Japanese movement was known as 'Mingei' and developed in Japan in the late 1920s and 1930s. The term Mingei is the abbreviation of Minshuteki Kogei, or folk crafts: 'simple, hand-made objects for everyday use' (2).

The Arts and Crafts Movement took its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society that was founded in London in 1887. It is generally accepted that the movement constituted a reaction to the rapid industrialization of nineteenth-century Britain, Europe and America. John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896) were instrumental in changing public perception of the decorative arts. In 'The Nature of Gothic', included as the central chapter in the second volume of The Stones of Venice (1851-1853) Ruskin praised European medieval art by describing it as the product of ordinary men who were masters of their craft, not the slaves of machinery, and whose art was a manifestation of individuality rather than a mass-produced artifact .

If Ruskin and Morris can be considered the founding fathers of the Arts and Crafts movement, then Mingei's was Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961). Yanagi’s interest in Korean art led him to take his first trip to Korea in 1916 and to establish a Korean Folk Crafts Museum with Asakawa Takumi in one of the old palace buildings in Seoul in 1924. Yanagi formally declared a Folk Art Movement in Japan in 1926 and began rescuing ordinary pots and utensils used by common people in the Edo and Meiji eras: such homely objects were disappearing in a Japan that was rapidly transforming itself from a rural, agrarian to an urban, industrialized society. He established a Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in 1936 near Shibuya in Tokyo.

Yanagi’s insistence on the originality of his ideas has been effectively demolished by Brian Moeran and Yuko Kikuchi, who have pointed to the similarity of Yanagi's ideas to Morris's, to his close friendship with the British potter Bernard Leach, to the fact that, by 1927, over one hundred of Ruskin's and Morris’s works, many in Japanese translation, had been published in Japan, and to the discovery that Yanagi’s own library contained works by Morris (3). Kikuchi attributes Yanagi’s reluctance to acknowledge indebtedness to Ruskin and Morris to the ambivalence felt by many Japanese towards the rapid westernization of their country at the cost of the loss of indigenous cultural practices (4).

The ambivalence was mutual. An 1877 exhibition of over two hundred Japanese ceramics held at the South Kensington Museum in London inspired a display of British chauvinism, with the pottery dismissed as primitive and odd. According to Anna Jackson, the subtle beauty of the Japanese art threatened European claims to cultural supremacy (5).

But the affinities between the movements in the two countries are greater than their differences. Both Japanese Mingei and the British Arts and Crafts movements developed in similar circumstances. Britain in the 1850s and Japan in the early years of the twentieth century were countries in the throes of unchecked industrialization. Factory workers toiled long hours at repetitive tasks in miserable conditions, and goods that could be afforded were badly made and poorly decorated. The traditional skills exercised by each country's craftsmen were being lost. Machines could produce their goods much more cheaply. It is possible to see the development of Britain's Arts and Crafts movement as a direct result of the Industrial Revolution, when a decline in rural handicrafts was precipitated by a rise in 'soulless' machine-made production: the mass-manufacture of goods.

Many people associate the figure of William Morris with Britain's Arts and Crafts movement, but it was inspired by Ruskin: its roots lie in Ruskin's writings. In his earliest work, the first volume of Modern Painters, published in 1843, Ruskin had argued that artists needed to 'go to nature,' to express the 'truth' of nature in their work He included detailed observations of clouds, air, water, stones, trees and other vegetation, with examples of artists who, he complained, had failed to paint these natural phenomena realistically.

In The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1848) and then in The Stones of Venice (1851-53), Ruskin argued that architecture cannot be separated from morality and that the 'Decorated Gothic' style represented the highest form of architecture yet achieved. He rejected standardization and mechanization and the division of labor. He believed that the Medieval Gothic style expressed a reverence for nature and for natural forms and that the medieval craftsman had been allowed to fulfil his creative potential, untrammelled by conventions or restrictions.

In 1848, influenced by Ruskin, a group of English painters, including John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt, formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, whose aim was to reject what they perceived as a mechanistic or conventional or formulaic approach to art in favor of an attentive study of nature, an ambition faithfully to portray the natural world in their paintings. The Pre-Raphaelites emphasized the personal responsibility of the individual artist to determine his own ideas and method of depiction. Like Ruskin they admired medieval culture, believing it to be a period in which a spiritual and creative integrity lost to subsequent ages had flourished, manifesting itself in Gothic art and architecture. A split eventually developed in the brotherhood between the 'medievalists' and the 'realists' when it was found that an emphasis on medieval culture seemed to clash with the promotion of the realism consistent with independent observation of nature. The realist side was led by Millais and Hunt and the medievalists, by Rossetti, with his followers Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Ruskin's philosophy, commending skill and creativity in craftsmanship and advocating a revival of simplicity in the way buildings and furnishings were made, found concrete expression in the construction of Red House, Bexleyheath, London (1859) by architect Philip Webb for William Morris. Morris later formed the Kelmscott Press and had a shop where he designed and sold products such as wallpaper, textiles, furniture and ceramics. He wanted to counter what he considered the vile slave-labour conditions of the modern factory by setting up a company that would produce well-designed, hand-made products influenced by medieval and traditional rural crafts.

Like Ruskin, Morris held that the Gothic was an example of art as the 'expression of man's joy in labour' (6). In Morris's essay entitled 'Art and Socialism,' Morris asserted that 'all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do' (7).

The works of Ruskin and Morris were introduced into Japan from the late 1880s (8). They immediately exerted an influence, if one with, at first, little connection with the Arts and Crafts movement (9). Shimazaki Toson, a romantic poet and novelist, translated part of Ruskin's Modern Painters and conducted his own studies on the clouds in his native region of Komoro while Kojima Usui established the Japanese Alpine Club in 1905 and introduced mountaineering as a recreation in Japan (10). Murai Tomoyoshi introduced Ruskin and Morris as socialists in Shakai Shugi (Socialism) in 1899, Iwamura Toru, a leading art critic, wrote an extensive biographical article on Ruskin in Bijutsu Hyoron (Art Criticism) in 1900 and talked about Morris in his 1915 publication entitled Geijitsu to Shakai (Art and Society), and famed novelist Natsume Soseki analyzed Ruskin and his Christian aesthetics in Bungakuron (Literary Criticism) in 1907 (11). The early decades of the twentieth century saw a number of translations, articles, and books devoted to Ruskin, and, in 1931, Mikimoto Ryuzo, a famous pearl manufacturer and promoter of the work of Ruskin in Japan, established the Tokyo Ruskin Society.

Morris was first mentioned in 1891 in Shibue Tamotsu's Eibungaku-shi, Japan's earliest published history of English literature (12). As early as 1904, News from Nowhere was partly translated into Japanese and introduced by the socialist Toshihiko Sakai (13). But it was in the 1920s that Morris's thoughts and ideas gained prominence in Japan. According to Shuichi Nakayama, receptiveness to Morris can be directly related to the fact that, at that time, Japan was in an era of economic depression and there were major industrial disputes in the shipbuilding and steel industries. The Japanese Socialist League was founded in 1920 and the Japanese Communist Party in 1922 (14). In 1927 the economist Nobuyuki Okumi wrote Ruskin and Morris as Social Thinkers, emphasizing their role as socialists. In 1938, the Japanese educator Tatsuo Morita published a study entitled Owen and Morris. Morita believed that Morris advocated a liberal as opposed to a 'mechanical and narrow knowledge-based education' and advocated a reform of Japan's educational system, but his views were unacceptable in a country that was increasingly adopting a nationalist outlook, where censorship of thought and speech and oppression of democratic and liberal leanings were not only countenanced but encouraged (15).

At this time, Morris was principally known in Japan as a poet and a socialist. The Morris who worked as a decorative artist was first introduced in 1912, when Tomimoto Kenkichi wrote a full-length article about his art. Lafcadio Hearn, Lecturer in English Literature at Tokyo University (1896-1903), gave an extensive lecture on Morris in all three capacities. Haruhiko Fujita describes Hearn as a 'hidden but indispensable figure' in the story of the British Arts and Crafts movement's impact on Japan (16). Hearn unintentionally facilitated the popularization of Britain's Arts and Crafts movement by inspiring, through his writings, a love of Japan and all things Japanese in the young British potter Bernard Leach who came to Japan in 1909. Leach was assisted in Tokyo in his arrival by Iwamura Toru, who, as noted above, was to present an image of Morris as thinker and activist in his 1915 publication Geijitsu to Shakai (Art and Society). Leach met Tomimoto in 1910 and formed an important friendship with Yanagi Soetsu in 1918, when he lived and worked the land with Yanagi at the family farm in Abiko. In later years, Leach would write that 'It would not be entirely amiss to describe Yanagi's position in Japan as relatively comparable to that of Ruskin and Morris in England' (17).

According to Haruhiko Fujita, in the early decades of the twentieth century, 'Art and Industry' rather than 'Arts and Crafts,' was a more appropriate term for Japanese specialists...when the 'Folk Crafts' or Mingei movement began' (18). The Taisho period (1912-26) was a time of rapid industrialization, representing the second wave of the industrialization of the country. The number of national technological schools doubled during the decade from 1915 to 1925. Fujita observes that it was not coincidental that a few graduates from the Tokyo Higher School of Technology in 1914-16 became 'leading exponents of the 'Folk Crafts' Mingei movement' (19). Facing the possibility of war, Japan was turning from light to heavy industries. Students at the technology schools were abandoning pottery to become engineers working with industrial ceramics.

Yanagi supposedly constructed his 'Mingei' theory at roughly the same time (1927-8) as the publication of his book Kogei no Michi (The Way of Crafts), widely considered the 'Bible' of the movement. According to Yanagi, his interest in Mingei dated from 1916, when he took his first trip to Korea, which had been annexed by Japan in 1910:

When I travelled to Korea in 1916 in order to visit my sister there, I met Asakawa Yoshitaka and Takumi who helped to build my interest and empathy for Korean artefacts. From then on, I was attracted by artefacts of the Yi period and visited Korea several times to purchase various things from my limited budget. In New Year 1924, I went to Kofu with Asakawa Takumi to visit Mr. Komiyama Seizo, just to see artefacts of the Yi period. There I unexpectedly saw mokujikibutsu which was a form of art I had never thought of. Because of this incident, I started to study Mokuji Shonin and travelled all over Japan, tracing the route Mokujiki Shonin travelled...Then while I was travelling, I became aware of the local handicrafts of this period. This trip gave me a chance to see the situation of the handicrafts of Japan (20).

But his book The Unknown Craftsman, published in 1972, dates Yanagi's interest in such work even earlier. 'The love of things of beauty had been mine since school days' Yanagi observes in this autobiographical work (21).

The Mingei philosophy stipulates that the work must be made by anonymous craftsmen and produced by hand in quantity, that it must be inexpensive enough to be affordable, and utilitarian enough to be desirable, by the common people, and that it should represent the region in which it was produced.

In 1927, at a ceramics shop in the town of Kurume in central Kyushu, Yanagi chanced upon an unprepossessing black tea pot that met these criteria for folk art. He was told that the ware he admired, displaying characteristics of old, hand-made pieces dating from pre-industrial Japan but of contemporary manufacture, came from a village near the town of Hita, in Oita prefecture, some fifty miles away . This fortuitous discovery led him to a thriving pottery in Kyushu that he saw as the ideal embodiment of Mingei principles. A hamlet called Sarayama in northern Kyushu had been producing pottery since 1705. Its products were utilitarian rather than decorative, including such homely objects as pickle jars and water crocks. Yanagi visited the hamlet in 1931 and in 1951, Bernard Leach spent twenty days there in 1954, and the pottery from the Sarayama kiln began to be recognized as items to be coveted by connoisseurs (22).

At this point, the vexed issue of cultural influences and its anxieties raises its head once again. The roots of the Sarayama kiln idealized by Yanagi as representative of his 'criterion of beauty in Japan' (nihon ni okeru bi no hyojun) lie in Korea (23). Archaeological evidence points to Kyushu as the earliest inhabited area of Japan, and it is a disputed issue whether those first inhabitants emigrated from neighboring Korea. In any case, there are naturally close cultural links and affinities between Kyushu and Korea, including a shared heritage of ceramics dating from the sixteenth century. While ancient kilns dating back to the dawn of Japanese civilization can be found on Kyushu, it was only in the late 1590's, when Japan invaded Korea, forcing Korean potters to return to Japan with them - an event commemorated as the so-called 'Pottery Wars' - that the island's pottery 'really matured' (24). Before this date, the Japanese used earthenware because they lacked the skill or techniques to manufacture pottery.

In the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese War with China in 1894-5 and the Russo-Japanese War with Russia in 1904-5, Japan became the dominant power in the Far East. It received Taiwan after the war with China, established itself in southern Manchuria, and annexed Korea in 1910, We must place the Mingei movement in this context as Yanagi extended his application of the 'criterion of beauty' to the crafts of the Okinawans and the Ainu in the Japanese peripheries and to those of its colonies: Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria.

Yanagi reserved the highest praise for Korean pottery, perceiving it as the work of craftsmen 'quite free from the conflict between the beautiful and the ugly' (25). He believed that they worked free of dualism or pretension. But Yanagi was severely criticized in Korea in 1974 for sentiments expressed in his essay on 'Korea and the Arts' that were perceived as a 'colonialist view of history' (26). Yanagi had described Korean pottery as characterized by the sadness of a country with a long history of foreign invasion.

If Yanagi was willing to acknowledge some indebtedness to Korean pottery in his formulation of the criterion of Mingei theory, he was disinclined to express any gratitude to the Western Arts and Crafts Movement. In his 1927 publications of Kogei no Michi (The Way of Crafts) and Kogei Biron no Senkusha ni tsuite (About the Predecessors of Crafts Aesthetics), Yanagi claimed that his ideas owed nothing to Western influence:

I am extremely isolated in my ideas on the beauty of crafts. Fortunately or unfortunately I owe hardly anything to those who came before me. The incredible crafts themselves taught me...Until recently,I knew very little about Ruskin and Morris (27).

Yanagi reiterated this claim more forcefully in 1941, in the preface to Kogei Bunka (Craft Culture), in which he stated that:

Our activities in the field of craft have been known as the 'Mingei movement' and what we are most proud of is the fact that it was conceived in Japan, not initiated by foreign ideas. We took note of existing ideas in the West towards crafts, but we did not find anything useful. So, our ideas are totally original and contain no trace of imitation. It is very significant that we create our own original path, even if it is premature, given that at present the field of current thoughts and crafts are slavishly following after the West. We Japanese have to bear a torch light now to lead, one step ahead of them (28).

The scholars Yuko Kikuchi and Brian Moeran believe that 'power relations' and 'ultra-nationalism' lie at the core of Yanagi's Mingei theory, arguing that, far from representing a purely Japanese invention, it is a 'hybridization' and 'appropriation' of Morris's and Leach's ideas (29). In Kikuchi's opinion, around 1919, the Shirakaba (White Birch) group of intellectuals and artists, of which Yanagi was a member, began to shift from a subservience to Western ideas to a search for a national identity (30). Kikuchi argues that while Yanagi was deeply grateful to Lafcadio Hearn and Leach for their studies on Japan and their admiration of Japanese art and culture, he was also suffering from an unexpressed inferiority complex towards the West (31). Such a complex might account for Yanagi's reluctance to acknowledge indebtedness towards not only Ruskin and Morris but even his close friend Leach in his formation of the Mingei theory.

The shadow of war and the effects of colonisation are inextricably linked to a discussion of Japan's Mingei movement. As we have seen, Japan's own pottery manufacture dated from its invasion of Korea in the sixteenth century, and Yanagi's admiration of Korean pottery was inspired by a visit to a country that had been reduced to colonial status six years earlier. In Kikuchi's opinion, the flourishing of the Mingei movement in the 1930s is linked with war-time political conditions. Because Mingei was believed to represent a quintessential 'Japanese-ness', Yanagi described its especial features in terms with nationalistic overtones (32).

Edward Said analyzed 'Orientalism' as a Western system of 'dominating and restructuring the East,' whereby its intelligibility and identity arose not from the East's own efforts but by a 'complex series of knowledgeable manipulations by which the Orient was identified by the West' (33). Kikuchi indicates that Japan adopted a similar practice by applying Orientalism to its own art and projecting the same Orientalism on to the art of other Asian countries such as Korea. She calls this process 'Oriental Orientalism' (34). In her opinion,

The Occident made the Orient as other in order to create its identity. Japan made the rest of the Orient as other to create its identity in between the Occident and the Orient and, finally, mainland Japan made peripheral Japanese people as another Other within Japan (35).

But the West can also be troubled by issues of identity. In her article on Victorian perceptions of Japan, Anna James claims that nineteenth-century Britain expected and even required that the mysterious country of the Far East only recently opened up to the West should exhibit cultural inferiority. Just as Japan had needed to identify a cultural other against which its achievements, held as the unsurpassable standard, could be judged, so Britain wanted to express its superiority towards what it termed 'undeveloped' countries. Accordingly, James finds a 'construct of the Japanese race as primitive and childlike' powerful in many Victorian commentaries (36).

A display of Japanese art in an exhibition in London in 1862 led William Burges to compare contemporary Japan with the ideal society of the Middle Ages, when the artist-craftsman worked within the community. The desire to recreate this bygone age was, as James notes, one of the tenets of the British Arts and Crafts movement, which 'stressed the importance of simplicity, sincerity, and a close study of nature', all qualities commented on by the critics discussing Japanese art (37).

However, it was believed that Japanese achievements in the decorative arts demonstrated that they were only in the 'first stage' of progress (38). Japanese fine arts could not be considered 'high art'. It was stressed that Japanese art was purely decorative, the ceramics used for the tea ceremony were dismissed as 'common' and 'base', and the Japanese were damned as 'artistic barbarians' (39).

Japan's rapid transformation into an industrialized nation proved disconcerting to a Europe determined to condescend to it. America, another 'new' country, was one of the first to be willing to recognize Japan's achievements and to praise its cultural artefacts. The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 included a large collection of Japanese art which received mostly favorable attention. American critics, in particular, emphasized their belief that Japanese art destroyed Europe's claims to cultural supremacy: Japan 'outshines the most cultivated nations of Europe in arts' with 'workmanship which rival[s] and excel[s] the marvels of Italian art at its zenith...after the Japanese collection everything looks in a measure commonplace, almost vulgar' (40). It is perversely appropriate that America, anxious to retaliate against the European image of their own country as 'culturally undeveloped' should champion Japan and stress the unique relationship between the two countries, with the Japanese praised as the 'Yankees of the Asiatic continent' because of their thrift and mercantile spirit. (41). Nineteenth-century America had not yet conceived its own anxieties, based on national rivalry, with the small island nation in the East.


1. In The Anxiety of Influence (1973), Harold Bloom argued that the 'writing of all strong poets involves the rewriting of earlier strong poets and that this rewriting always and inevitably involves one or another form of misprision, a kind of misreading that allows the later writer's creativity to emerge.' For a concise explanation, see The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Economic Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray (New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003), pp. 23-4, p. 216.

2. Chiaki Yokoyama, 'Mingei and community: from the art of seeing to the art of making,' conference paper, international symposium on 'John Ruskin: the Brantwood Years'held at Lancaster University, 18-20 July 2000. The term 'Mingei' was coined by Yanagi along with the potters Hamada Shoji (1894-1978) and Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966) at the mountain monastery of Koya-san.

3. See Yuko Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality; The Formation of Mingei Theory in its Social and Historical Context', Journal of Design History, Volume 7, Issue 4, 1994, Yuko Kikuchi, Japanese Modernisation and 'Mingei' Theory (London: Routledge Curzon, 2004), p. 52, and Brian Moeran, 'Yanagi, Morris and popular art', Ceramic Review, no. 66, 1980 and Brien Moeran, 'Bernard Leach and the Japanese Folk Craft Movement: the formative years,' Journal of Design History, Volume 2, Issue 2, 1989. Yokoyama, op. cit., pp. 3-4, believes that Yanagi first came to know of Morris's work in the field of Arts and Crafts through an article entitled 'A Study of William Morris' in Bijutsu Shimpo (Art Journal) published in 1912 by Tomimoto Kenkichi which introduced Morris as a pattern designer.

4. Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 252: 'The ambivalent feelings the Japanese had about the clash between their own indigenous ideas and Western ones, arising as a reaction to the radical Westernization policies in the early half of the Meiji period, slowly developed into cultural and politicoeconomic nationalism. The main concern of the intellectuals was to define Japanese originality and a Japanese identity, and also to make possible the coexistence of Western logic and Eastern spirit.'

5. See 'Imagining Japan: The Victorian Perception and Acquisition of Japanese Culture' by Anna Jackson, Journal of Design History, Volume 5, Issue 4, 1992.

6. See Ruskin's impassioned defense of this principle in 'The Nature of Gothic,' Chapter VI, the second volume of The Stones of Venice (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1882), pp. 151-230.

7. William Morris, 'Art and Socialism,' a lecture delivered to the Leicester Secular Society, 23 January 1884.

8. Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 254, asserts that 'Ruskin was introduced as early as 1888 in a popular magazine Kokumin no Tomo (Friends of the Nation) by Tokutomi Soho, a writer and journalist'.

9. In her article on the Arts and Crafts Movement show at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in the spring of 2005, Aileen Reid observes: 'Japan took rather longer than the rest of the world to digest the Arts and Crafts message. Although the writings of Ruskin and Morris (or Wiramu Morisu as he is known in Japan) were translated into Japanese by the 1880s, it was not until 20 years later that their ideas were acted on in Japan, probably because until then, Ruskin's tolling bell sounded only faintly in a country so little industrialised and urbanised.' See The Sunday Telegraph, 6 March 2005.

10. Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 254

11. Lecture by Haruhiko Fujita, Professor of Aesthetics, Osaka University, on 'Japanese Crafts for the 21st Century -- From the Past Looking to the Future,' 8 September, 2006, and see also, Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 254.

12. Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 254.

13. See Shuichi Nakayama, 'The Impact of William Morris in Japan 1904 to the Present,' Journal of Design History, Volume 9, Issue 4, 1996.

14. Ibid., p. 273.

15. Ibid., p. 275.

16. Haruhiko Fujita, op. cit., p. 1.

17. 'Introduction' by Bernard Leach, Soetsu Yanagi's The Unknown Craftsman: An Insight into Japanese Beauty (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1972), p. 90.

18. Fujita, op. cit., p. 1.

19. Ibid., p. 2.

20. Quoted in Kikuchi's article on 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 249.

21. Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman, p. 101.

22. Karen A. Smyers, review of Brian D. Moeran's Folk Art Potters of Japan: Beyond an Anthropology of Aesthetics, Asian Folklore Studies, 1 June 2000. See also Brian D. Moeran, 'Yanagi Muneyoshi and the Japanese Folk Craft Movement,'Asian Folklore Studies, Nanzan University, Vol. 40, No., 1, 1981.

23. Ibid.

24. Robert Yellin, 'The Koreans who Potted in Kyushu,' The Japan Times Online, 20 April 2005.

25. Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman, p. 123.

26. Wikipedia, the Internet Encyclopedia, on Mingei. See, for example, Kim Brandt, ’Objects of Desire: Japanese Collectors and Colonial Korea,'Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, vol. 8, No. 3, Winter 2000.

27. Yanagi Soetsu, Yanagi Soetsu Zenshu (Collected Works of Yanagi Soetsu) Volume 8, pp. 194-5, cited in Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' pp. 247-8.

28. Ibid., p. 248.

29. Wikipedia, op. cit.

30. Kikuchi, 'The Myth of Yanagi's Originality,' p. 252.

31. Ibid., pp. 253-4.

32. Kikuchi, Japanese Modernization and 'Mingei' Theory, op. cit., pp. 109-22. In an article published in The Japan Times Online, 23 October 2008, describing an exhibition entitled 'Life and Art: Arts and Crafts from Morris to Mingei,'on display at Kyoto’s National Museum of Art, Matthew Larking notes that the 'various manifestations of the movement took root in countries resurgent with nationalism, as local craftsmanship became emblematic of the nation.'Larking observes that Morris had supplied the throne for the coronation of George V in 1911, while the original of a traditional Japanese wooden house, 'Mikuni-so,'whose reproduction features in the exhibition, was built to commemorate Emperor Hirohito’s enthronement.

33. Edward Said, Orientalism, (London, 1978), p. 40.

34. See Kikuchi's chapter on 'Oriental Orientalism,' pp. 123-195, Japanese Modernization and 'Mingei ' Theory.

35. Ibid., p. 195.

36. James, 'Imagining Japan,' p. 249.

37. James quotes from an article by Christopher Dresser, 'The Art Manufactures of Japan from Personal Observation,' published in 1878, in 'Imagining Japan,' p. 249.

38. Ibid., p. 248.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid., p. 246.

41. Ibid.

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About the author

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an American by birth, spent seven years in Britain, earning her MA in 18th-century English Studies at Lancaster University and her Ph.D. at Edinburgh University, with a doctoral thesis on Alexander Pope's correspondence. She has been a resident in Japan since the spring of 1984, working first for five years as a 'Guest Professor' at Tokushima Bunri University's Shido campus, and since then, as a full-time tenured member of staff in the Department of Language and Culture at Shikoku Gakuin University. She has published widely in her academic field, mainly on the topic of letters, diaries and journals, but recently has also been writing on the topic of her experiences as a foreigner living in Japan, the wife of a farmer and the mother of three sons.

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