Thursday, 5 November 2009

Japanese Folk Craft Museum

I went to this lovely little folk craft museum today, only a short hop from Shibuya on the Inokashira line. It is housed in a traditional-style building of stone and stucco in a quiet suburb of Tokyo. It was opened by Soetsu Yanagi, a philosopher, who wanted to show works done by anonymous craftsmen who produced handmade, inexpensive pieces to be used by the masses. In this way, Yanagi theorised that the repetition of the work disengaged the craftsmen from what they were doing, thus producing a piece of work that was not laboured over. He saw it as being able "to produce work of astonishing merit with the utmost ease". I wish I could be more like that!

There was an amazing calmness to the museum (helped by the fact that you had to put slippers on when you arrived!) and the building itself was quite awesome, with its heavy wooden beams and stone floors. There was a mixed collection of wooden items, garments and pottery and, of course now that I am a "potter", I got very inspired. There were obviously other aspiring potters there. One guy was taking notes (which is what I should have done) and the next minute he was sticking his head right inside a massive pot. Obviously an interesting glaze that needed to be examined up close!

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