By Kim Brandt
A research of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
Kingdom of Beauty indicates that the invention of mingei (folk artwork) via jap intellectuals within the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties used to be important to the advanced technique through which Japan turned either a latest country and an imperial global energy. Kim Brandt’s account of the mingei flow locates its origins in colonial Korea, the place middle-class jap artists and creditors chanced on that imperialism provided them distinct possibilities to acquire artwork gadgets and achieve social, cultural, or even political impact. Later, mingei fans labored with (and opposed to) different groups—such as country officers, fascist ideologues, rival people artwork businesses, neighborhood artisans, newspaper and journal editors, and division shop managers—to advertise their very own imaginative and prescient of gorgeous prosperity for Japan, Asia, and certainly the area. In tracing the background of mingei activism, Brandt considers not just Yanagi Muneyoshi, Hamada Shōji, Kawai Kanjirō, and different famous leaders of the people artwork stream but in addition the customarily ignored networks of provincial intellectuals, craftspeople, sellers, and consumers who have been simply as vital to its good fortune. the results of their collective efforts, she makes transparent, used to be the transformation of a once-obscure class of pre-industrial rural artifacts into an icon of contemporary nationwide kind.
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Extra resources for Kingdom of Beauty: Mingei and the Politics of Folk Art in Imperial Japan (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society)
Aota's schoolteacher's salary, along with the money Suzuki made as a private tutor (katei kyoshi), were hardly enough to cover the guild's expenses, which included a steep rent and the regular purchase of costly materials. Only toward the end of its existence did sales of the guild's products actually begin to bring in more than a paltry sum. As Suzuki noted in retrospect, the guild would not have survived without the financial support it received from outside. Most important were the efforts of Iwai Taketoshi, editor of the Kyoto edition of a major Osaka newspaper, who felt strongly enough about the guild project to devote much of his energies to promoting and supporting it.
In the late rg2os, for example, the Railway Ministry joined with local tourist bureaus to publish conveniently portable guidebooks to the folk toys of various regions. Not long after,. m By the 1930s it was not unusual to find articles on folk toys and folk toy collecting in a wide range of publications. The discovery of mingei, then, must be understood within the context of a larger discovery of the rural aesthetic made by a new and growi~g segment of the population-the urban and suburban middle class-durmg th~ first half of the twentieth century.
The causes of this tragic distortion were capitalism, the overreliance THE DISCOVERY OF MINGE! 53 on machines ("machine-ism" or kikaishugi), egotism (shugashugi), and intellectualism (shuchishugi). " 26 This purpose, as described in Kogei no michi, was to help bring about the socialist "Kingdom of Beauty" (bi no okoku) in which a true craft aesthetic, as exemplified by mingei of the preindustrial past, would be restored to the masses. Yanagi's commitment to a socialist future was explicit: So there are two ways oflooking at crafts.