The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Studies on Yanagi Sosetsu and the Folk Craft Movement in Japan

Joint Research Coordinator KUMAKURA Isao

Reserch Theme List

Publication of Results “Yanagi Sosetsu and the Folk Craft Movement,” Shibunkaku Co. Ltd., May 2005 → to publisher’s website


As is well known, in 1925 Yanagi Sosetsu and others proposed the Folk Craft Theory. Subsequent to the proposal, a major movement developed that included exhibits of folk crafts (at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum), diffusion of the theory of folk crafts (through publishing and publicity activities including the magazine “Kogei Kogei”), and the actual practice of folk crafts (folk craft instruction at various locations). In recent years, folk craft theory has attracted attention as part of the thought of modern Japan, while at the same time it has been reevaluated, and became the theme of the 2001 convention of the Society for Ethno-Arts in relation to folk artifacts. Nevertheless, the influence of the Japan Folk Crafts Association as a representative body for the movement has declined, and general criticism of folk crafts is strong. With evaluations and criticism of Yanagi Sosetsu and the Folk Crafts Movement so polarized, we believe that the time has come to return closer to the starting point and comprehensively reevaluate their accomplishments and significance. The significance of such a reevaluation now could be greater than ever before. Fortunately, we have been able to enlist the services of Dr. Martin Collcutt, Professor at Princeton University and a leading authority on the history of Japanese religion and one of the visiting international researchers this year, for our joint project. We would like to illuminate religious aspects of the folk craft movement.