Past Exhibition Collection Exhibition

20 passions for Crafting Crafts: from the Museum Collection



Crafts Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo


Passions and crafts: when you see those words side by side, what sorts of things do you imagine? For example, do you think of a ceramic artist conducting repeated experiments in search of a color never before seen or a new texture? That indeed is the classic form of passion in the crafts. The potential in the vocabulary of the crafts for combining materials and specialized skills in all their variety is infinite. The more sophisticated the craftsman’s mastery, the more acute the concentration, with a tendency to place great emphasis on the excellent finish of the work.

Some, however, may find passions and crafts an odd pairing. In the crafts, which by nature have a functional element, all sorts of intentions are made to converge in the creation of a work. The result is designed so that we might only experience those elements engaged in its creation in terms of its decorativeness or its feel. Perhaps that is why we might, if we are being somewhat thoughtless, find that the scope for appreciation of the crafts is limited. And what a waste that would be!

But a tendency to be a bit thoughtless cannot be attributed only to the nature of the crafts. The word “craft” (kogei) became the name of a genre, as we use it today, in Japan, in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when Western standards for the arts were imported and their adoption seen as carrying the flag for modernization. In the interpretation of the term “art” (bijutsu), “craft” was the general term for things that did not make the cut when viewed in the light of those imported standards.  The term kogei, “craft,” taken from classic texts, was applied to those supposedly lesser works. Since then, the context for appreciating the crafts, within the social system at large and in the classroom,  has tended to be full of noise. And that is despite that the fact that we Japanese have been appreciating those works’ value from at least as early as  the Heian period and that such works came to be placed in the tokonoma alcove, a sacred space within everyday life, to be viewed and enjoyed. What a waste!

But the modern era has brought about opportunities to tackle reassessing those waters, muddied as they have become by diversity and ambiguity. If we can say that at one time the prestige of our nation was staked on defining the crafts as beauty in utility, then we can restate things to say that they are useful and beautiful and to try measuring the distance from the self, applying traditional or avant-garde terms. In that process, we might be expected to be searching for standards that are in touch with the wider world, but, surprisingly, we confront “Japan.” Crafts and Japan: works stimulated by the phenomenon of overlapping those two images have been on the increase in recent years.

For this exhibition, we have selected from the words, the actions, and the achievements of the artists who exemplify the modern crafts, to present their passions as they each face their own phases, junctures, situations. Should you wish to compare the trajectory of the crafts that comes to light through this exhibition with the situation in modern art, please also visit the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, a mere five-minute walk away. Please also note that this exhibition will be the last to be presented in the Crafts Gallery in Tokyo.

SUZUKI Chokichi, Twelve Hawks(a part of the work), 1893


Related Programs *Offered in Japanese only.

Self-Guidance First 5,000 visitors

An introduction to the words and historical backgrounds of passionate artists, alongside beautiful photographs.

20passions First 2,020 visitors

A networking event that connects passions. Participants will receive a “Passion Bag.”

Awaken someone else’s passion with your own! Post your “passionable” photos taken at the Crafts Gallery during the event to social media to receive an original Crafts Gallery Passion Bag. If you’re not on social media, you can email us your passion instead!

Artist Talk* 14:00-15:00 (each day)

① Hear artists talk about their thoughts on their own work, as well as about the passion of other artists they’ve observed at the venue.

January 13  Kofushiwaki Tsukasa (lacquer artist)

January 26  Sudo Reiko (textile designer)

② Explore a virtual workshop with images and videos.

February 23  Tsuiki Noriko (textile artist)

February 24  MIWA, Kyusetsu XIII (ceramic artist)

Wax Resist Dyeing – Demonstration & Talk*  First 20 visitors

Why not be a witness to the moment hot, melted wax is used to resist dye?

January 12, 14:00-15:30 Fukumoto Shigeki (textile artist)

Curator Talk* 14:00-15:00 (each day)

A Curator of Crafts Gallery talks about modern crafts from a variety of perspectives.

January 5, February 9

Badge & Talk 10:30-12:00, 13:00-15:30 (each day); First 50 visitors

A badge-making workshop and Gallery Talk.

When the passion of a piece strikes you, push the lever down and try creating an original button badge! Take your memories of the Crafts Gallery home with a passion-filled badge. If you have the time, feel free to head to the venue with our guide staff.

January 19, February 16

Touch&Talk in English

Due to concerns over coronavirus infection, Touch&Talk both in Japanese and English will be cancelled during the exhibition “20 passions.” We ask for your kind understanding and cooperation.

Passion Movies Showing at the venue during the Exhibition

Most materials for crafts come from nature. However, in order to meet people’s needs and comfort, various ideas are applied, and when they are placed before us, they emit the beauty of artificial things, completely transformed from when they were in nature. Natural → artificial. What happens during this “→” and what sort of thoughts are expressed? From the studios of Uehara Michiko (weaving), Takahashi Yoshihiko (glasswork), and Hashimoto Masayuki (metalwork) comes burning passion through visuals and sound.

Sawatte Please

Unwind in the break room designed by world-famous designer Sudo Reiko and NUNO Corporation as you experience textiles that incorporate the nature of Japan. We’ll also present videos showing various regions of production.

☆ No reservation or participation fee required for any activity [Admission tickets are required for those 18 and up (excluding 65 years and older, and high school students)]

Hours & Admissions


Crafts Gallery


December 20, 2019 – March 8, 2020


10:00 – 17:00
※Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.


Mondays (except January 13, February 24, 2020); December 28, 2019 – January 1, 2020; January 14, February 25, 2020


Day ticket (Group of 20 persons or more)
Adults ¥250(200)
Students (college/university) ¥130(60)

*All prices include tax.
*Free for high school students, under 18, seniors (65 and over), Campus Members, MOMAT passport holders.
*Show your Membership Card of the MOMAT Supporters or the MOMAT Members to get free admission ( a MOMAT Members Card admits two persons free ).
*Persons with disability and one person accompanying them are admitted free of charge.
*Members of the MOMAT Corporate Partners are admitted free with their staff ID.

Free Admission Days

January 2
January 5
February 2
March 1


The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Agency for Cultural Affairs
Japan Arts Council

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