1970 The building was erected as one of the pavilions of The Japan World Exposition, Osaka, 1970
1971 It reopened as the Japan Folk Crafts Museum,Osaka
Site area: 3,070,035 m2
First Curator: Shoji Hamada
Second Curator: Munemichi Yanagi
After the closing of the Japan World Exposition, Osaka, 1970, the exhibit building was refurbished to be opened as The Japan Folk Crafts Museum,Osaka (Osaka Nihon Mingei Kan), the West-Japan headquarters of the Folk Craft Movement, founded by Muneyoshi Yanagi (1889-1961). Surrounded by lawns and trees, the complex of facilities including this museum and the facing Peace Rose Garden, Traditional Japanese Garden, and National Museum of Ethnology constitutes the cultural heart of the EXPO ‘70 Commemorative Park.
The one-story (partly two-story) reinforced-concrete building occupies its triangular site completely. The corridor-like layout flows naturally from exhibition room one to exhibition room four in a way that promotes leisurely appreciation of the displays. Appropriately positioned earthenware jars, vessels, and pots from all over Japan contribute to the simple atmosphere of the stone-paved inner courtyard, which serves as an outdoor exhibition space.
The first curator of the museum was the ceramist and designated living national treasure Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) who, together with Muneyoshi Yanagi, was the driving force behind the Folk Crafts movement. The industrial designer and honorary curator of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, Komaba, Tokyo, Munemichi Yanagi (1915-2011) became the second curator of the Osaka museum in 1978 and retired in late March, 2011.
Each year the museum holds two special exhibitions (spring and autumn) of domestic and foreign ceramics, dying and textiles, woodwork and lacquer, and braiding and basket weaving. The collections of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, Osaka, the Folk Crafts Museum, Komaba, Tokyo, etc., are the central sources of works for these exhibits. As special events, commemorative lectures accompany each of these exhibitions.
- ＊ Muneyoshi (Soetsu) Yanagi (1889-1961)
- Religious philosopher. While studying at the Gakushuin High School (old system), he participated in the founding of the literary journal Shirakaba (White birch). He studied in the philosophy department of Tokyo Imperial University (now Tokyo University). Encounters with Yi dynasty Korean crafts and English slipware pottery drew his attention to the beauty of objects used in daily life by ordinary people. On the basis of the Buddhist idea of help from outside the self, he proposed an original folk-arts aesthetic theory. Under the slogan “The Beauty of Daily Living,” he and ceramists Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai initiated the Folk Crafts Movement. In 1936, he founded the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.
- ＊ Shoji Hamada (1894-1978)
- Ceramist. Like Kanjiro Kawai, he studied at the Tokyo Higher Technical School (Now the Tokyo Institute of Technology) and the Kyoto Ceramics Experimental Station. In 1920, he traveled to England with the ceramist Bernard Leach, who had been living in Japan. Returning home, he set up a kiln in the town of Mashiko in Tochigi Prefecture. He traveled throughout Japan and to many parts of the world educating people about the beauty of utensils of everyday use. He developed a personal ceramic style that is both simple and powerful.
- ＊ Munemichi (Sori) Yanagi (1915-2011)
- The oldest son of Muneyoshi Yanagi, he was active as one of the pioneers of Japanese industrial design. Highly reputed throughout the world, his work is to be found in art-museum collections in many countries. He became curator of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in 1977 then curator of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, Osaka, in 1978, and retired in late March, 2011. He played the important role of building a bridge between the production and folk-art realms.
Access to the Museum
■ Osaka Monorail: 15 minutes’ walk from the EXPO ‘70 Commemorative Park station; 10 minutes’ walk from Park East Entrance station.
■ Regular buses from the Hankyu Ibaraki-shi station, the JR Ibaraki station, and the North Osaka Express Senri-chuo station; 10 minutes’ walk from the Japan Garden station.
■ By car: 5 minutes’ walk from the Japan Garden parking lot (toll charged) on the EXPO ‘70 Commemorative Park grounds.