“MINGEI — The Shape of Beautiful Living” Exhibition Friday, 19 March ― Sunday, 9 May 2021

“MINGEI — The Shape of Beautiful Living” Exhibition


The Mingei Movement of folk craft and MUJI, although born of different eras, have each continued to question their origins in the context of consumerism, while also taking in the influence of changing trends and lifestyles. Produced with the cooperation of The Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Nihon Mingeikan), the traveling exhibition, “MINGEI—The Shape of Beautiful Living,” hoists high the MUJI banner in an innovative, forward-looking form. The exhibition offers visitors a message replete with guideposts to the future and opportunities to appreciate the beauty of mingei. The name MUJI is derived from the original Japanese, Mujirushi Ryohin, which can be translated as “no-brand quality goods.” As the name suggests, MUJI is all about creating products that serve a useful everyday purpose by subtly and modestly blending into day-to-day life. MUJI’s aim has been to become a useful part of people’s daily lives all around the world, whatever the setting might be—from the kitchen to the living room to the washroom. Our hope is that this exhibition will provide guests with an opportunity to take a good, close look at the philosophy that has always shaped MUJI’s craftsmanship, one product at a time.

Message from the curator Naoto Fukasawa


Some people say MUJI items are examples of modern mingei (folk crafts) or mingu (folk utensils).

There are, of course, differences in the methods of production, yet I do think the two share common features. For instance, neither displays the artist’s name on the product, and both take a selfless, honest approach to crafting items without ornamentation. With both mingei and MUJI, the beauty the objects radiate comes from quietly fulfilling their purpose. The term mingei was coined by Soetsu Yanagi and literally means “folk craft” or “art of the common people.” Yanagi called attention to the wholesome, common beauty and warmth found in utilitarian handicrafts produced for ordinary people, unlike elegant items of finery intended for ornamental display.

Soetsu Yanagi was an advocate of the unique “aesthetics of the object”—specifically, the objects woven deeply into the daily lives of the people. He established The Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Nihon Mingeikan) in 1936 in the hope of sharing his collection of 17,000 mingei craft items—along with their aesthetic—with as many people as possible. Today, the Museum remains active as a base for the Mingei Movement, devoted to spreading awareness of those aesthetics.

MUJI, meanwhile, was established in 1980, with the aim of providing the genuine value of simplicity and abundance, as opposed to the brand-name, logo-oriented marketing strategies of the day.

One might call MUJI itself—and the products it creates—a sort of contemporary mingei movement. The Japan Folk Crafts Museum and MUJI both aspire to highlight the spirit that is interwoven with peaceful, casual, day-to-day life—the places and spaces in life that people treasure most. Mingei is a wellspring of power to create beauty. The “MINGEI—The Shape of Beautiful Living” exhibition aims to introduce the essence of this powerful spirit to visitors. I would be delighted if this event were to serve as a catalyst for new forms of artisanry and offer a glimpse into the craftsmanship of the future.

Naoto Fukasawa / Director, The Japan Folk Crafts Museum

Opening times:
11:00 ― 18:00
Admission free
Organized by:
In special collaboration with:
The Japan Folk Crafts Museum
Creative direction and curation:
Naoto Fukasawa
HIGURE 17-15 cas
Graphic design:Yuko Higashikawa