The Japan Folk Crafts Museum


It’s a lovely spring day and as I’m walking, I can’t help but be thankful for this opportunity to be in Tokyo. There is so much to be inspired by and it seems fitting, that as I’m appreciating the beauty around me, I’ve come to this museum. It was built by the philosopher Soetsu Yanagi in 1936 and was meant to be a home for the Mingei Movement which, according to the museum pamphlet “aimed to fit beauty into everyday life.”



There is a special exhibition highlighting Ainu Crafts that peaks my interest because of the spiral pattern called Moreu (left) that is used on the backs of clothing. It was meant to protect people and act as an evil eye. I have long had a fascination with the evil eye symbol (I wear two everyday!) and I’m intrigued by how this symbol penetrates through various cultures.



From the museum pamphlet:

“Ainu people who had led their lives by hunting and fishing in harmony with nature believed that the nature itself was God, or kamuy in their language, like animals, plants, mountains, rivers, fires, thunder and so on. They believed that there existed souls in everything in heaven and on earth, even in materials produced by human beings.

Ainu people applied very powerful and very unique patterns to daily objects such as clothes and wooden works. They have thought that those Ainu patterns would have magical significances and protect themselves from evil.”

  1. love this post about the Ainu. I feel like some of that sensibility about souls being in everything is still alive in Japan, the gentle respect for materials and humble objects. Is there a through-line? I want to read more!

    • Simone: Unfortunately there isn’t much more information that I found in English!

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