Celebration of Mingei - Journey Through Japan


Our Focused Dives represents stories and sub-stories based on the life and culture of the Japanese people, and it also projects our experiences forward with a mixture of history and folk lore; an examination of underlying assumption; and in some cases, projects potential change as the culture continues to evolve.

We, the authors, are solely responsible for the interpretation of information gathered through our research on the various subjects included in our Blog. As such, the contents of our writings cannot be considered the ‘be-all, end-all’ voice on the subject. Images of antique and vintage pieces are from our inventory sold in our Carmel Gallery, (1998-2009), currently listed on our mingeiarts website, or in our archives.




Japanese Miniatures / Tiny Goodwill Ambassadors Japanese Miniatures / Tiny Goodwill Ambassadors

Japanese Miniatures
Tiny Goodwill Ambassadors

The Japanese have always understood “crafts” or “applied art”, particularly as related to miniature carvings and three-dimensional forms in the areas of ceramics, metalwork, textiles, woodwork, lacquer, basketry, paper, etc.). The Japanese have also valued the craftsmen as unique individuals...

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Tsukino Usagi – The Moon Rabbit / “Beautiful Center of Water” Rabbits: Selfless and Making Mochi on the Moon Tsukino Usagi – The Moon Rabbit / “Beautiful Center of Water” Rabbits: Selfless and Making Mochi on the Moon

Tsukino Usagi – The Moon Rabbit
“Beautiful Center of Water” Rabbits: Selfless and Making Mochi on the Moon

The Japanese  Folklore about the Rabbit and Its Relationship to the Moon  According to legend, an old man who lived on the moon decided to visit Earth. A group of animals saw what they thought was an old beggar who...

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Maneki Neko / The Japanese Beckoning Cat Maneki Neko / The Japanese Beckoning Cat

Maneki Neko
The Japanese Beckoning Cat

There has been an increase recently in Japan in the number of people who have cats and their related items. It is said to be a boom for collectors of this type of craft. However, way before this recent surge,...

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The Craft of the Japanese Bako / A Box Needs a Purpose The Craft of the Japanese Bako / A Box Needs a Purpose

The Craft of the Japanese Bako
A Box Needs a Purpose

The Box Firstly, in Japan, the box carries great importance, and is treasured and not to be thrown away. Wrapping and boxing in Japan is a very serious business. The box for most artwork is a work of art in...

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The Scholar’s Calligraphy Tools / Brush Pot, Brush Washer, Inkstone, and Brush The Scholar’s Calligraphy Tools / Brush Pot, Brush Washer, Inkstone, and Brush

The Scholar’s Calligraphy Tools
Brush Pot, Brush Washer, Inkstone, and Brush

Historically, most of the Japanese scholars, who were highly educated male calligraphers, practiced the art of ink painting, an early form of brush painting that only used black ink in different concentrations to produce fine quality art work. In Japan,...

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Shiwan Art Pottery / Folklore and Artistry Shiwan Art Pottery / Folklore and Artistry

Shiwan Art Pottery
Folklore and Artistry

 Being specialists in Japanese Folk Art, we have to be aware of the origins of artifacts which have grown out of other cultures, and how similar works of art intertwine as the craft matures. This article is for visual...

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Kogo / Incense Containers Open the Atmospheric Paths of Creativity & Socialization Kogo / Incense Containers Open the Atmospheric Paths of Creativity & Socialization

Kogo
Incense Containers Open the Atmospheric Paths of Creativity & Socialization

Kogo is a Buddhist tea and altar accessory, refers to a small, lidded container for incense, which is placed in the Kogo before making tea, in order to burn incense in a hearth when preparing the water for tea. Three...

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Buddha Artisanal Monks Japan Buddha Artisanal Monks Japan

Buddhist Monk Craftsmen
In Service of the Temple

Monks not only preside over the important events in a person's life but work to support the temple for which they are associated. Since the earliest times of Buddhism, the Buddhist monk has played a central role in both spiritual...

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Japanese Traditional Metalwork Japanese Traditional Metalwork

Japanese Traditional Metalwork
Artisans & Craftsmanship

Specialist craftsmen of Japan started to create their own appreciation of materials and objects, honing and perfecting the already traditions of Folk Art which were started by common people in their drive to make both functional and beautiful objects. At...

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Japanese Tree Root and Bamboo Carving Japanese Tree Root and Bamboo Carving

Japanese Tree Root and Bamboo Carving
Flower, Ikebana, Aesthetic Sculpture Tree

Tree Root and Bamboo carving is a traditional art in Japan, and has a long history among the Folk Art carvers and practitioners specifically focused on supporting Ikebana, displays of precious artwork, and objects that have a practical utility such...

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Japanese Farm Family Japanese Farm Family

The Japanese Farm Family
Mother, Oshin & Child

How parents raise their children is one of the main ways that culture and tradition are conveyed from generation to generation. When we generalize and say that the Japanese act a particular way, we’re talking about habits and attitudes that...

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Japanese Folk Arts, Symbolism, and Society Japanese Folk Arts, Symbolism, and Society

Japanese Folk Arts, Symbolism, and Society

Japanese society, and particularly women and the older population, has been represented in sculpture throughout Japanese history. Depiction of religious traditions and attitudes about all age levels of society has been a major source of visual representations of traditional beliefs,...

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O-choko Traditional Japanese Sake Cups O-choko Traditional Japanese Sake Cups

O-Choko
Overview of Traditional Sake Vessels

Overview of Sake Sake is a traditional alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. Sake is a traditional alcoholic beverage in Japan. Sake is a staple food in Japan and an integral part of the Japanese lifestyle and culture. The traditional...

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Lacquerwork / An Important Intangible Ancient Art Lacquerwork / An Important Intangible Ancient Art

Lacquerwork
An Important Intangible Ancient Art

Throughout Japan, woodworkers produce beautiful lacquerware pieces, which include some of the most prized utilitarian and decorative objects coveted by the Japanese people. The Japanese are known for their carving and lacquer work, which is exceptional, and is one of...

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Daruma and the Kodama Tree Spirits / Tears of the Forest Daruma and the Kodama Tree Spirits / Tears of the Forest

Daruma and the Kodama Tree Spirits
Tears of the Forest

The historical Bodhidharma was an Indian sage who lived sometime in the fifth or sixth century AD. He is the undisputed founder of Zen Buddhism, and is credited with the Ch'an Buddhism introduced to China during his travels to the...

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Kirigami — Origami / Japanese Paper and Art Fabrication Kirigami — Origami / Japanese Paper and Art Fabrication

Kirigami — Origami
Japanese Paper and Art Fabrication

The Japanese art, or technique, of cutting and folding paper into objects or designs is said to have developed with the invention of Tesuki Washi paper, brought to Japan by Doncho, a Buddhist monk from Korea.  In Japan there are...

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Japanese Illumination of Minka - Lighting Japanese Illumination of Minka - Lighting

Illumination of the Minka
Hands of Light

Japanese Mingei (folk art) tradition is embodied in the objects the people used to illuminate their dwellings, gardens, and public spaces. The lights are simple and elegant, and provide an important function and, which conveys a feeling of refinement.  The...

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Ukiyo-e / Interpretations of Beautiful Women Ukiyo-e / Interpretations of Beautiful Women

Ukiyo-e
Interpretations of Beautiful Women

Until the eighteenth century, woodblock printing remained primarily a convenient method of reproducing written texts and disseminating Buddhist scriptures. The designer and painter Tawaraya Sōtatsu (died ca. 1640) was the first used to carve woodblocks for stamps in the early...

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Rakugo / Story Teller Figurines | Hakuin & Otafuku Rakugo / Story Teller Figurines | Hakuin & Otafuku

Rakugo
Story Teller Figurines | Hakuin & Otafuku

Stories are told throughout the world as a way for people and communities to communicate. Words of warning, morals, lessons, and most importantly, entertainment, have been spread through the art of storytelling for generations. Japan has an ancient and highly...

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Sosaku Kokeshi / Artistry Embodied in Wood Sosaku Kokeshi / Artistry Embodied in Wood

Sosaku Kokeshi
Artistry Embodied in Wood

The art of Sosaku, (Creative), and modern Kokeshi doll making began in the early 1940s, grew and flourished in the 1950s, and well into the 70s. This 30+ year period produced the greatest, most enduring, and most popular artists of...

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Japanese Kokeshi History Japanese Kokeshi History

The Japanese Woodcarver
The Soul of Sosaku Kokeshi

As opposed to the painted and decorated Sosaku Kokeshi, this article is going to focus on the relief-carved Kokeshi that emphasize the natural qualities of the wood employed. In Japan, nature, religion, and society are deeply intertwined. Nowhere is this...

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Japanese Textile History Japanese Textile History

Japanese Textiles
Discovering The Power of The Garment in Everyday Life

The Textile arts have played a prominent part in the cultural history of Japan. The Kimono and Obi became Japan’s national dress during the 19th Century, and particularly after the opening of Japan during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912). Traditional modes...

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