Past Exhibitions

  • October 25, 2020 - January 11, 2021

The First of the National Crafts Museum’s Grand Opening Exhibitions: Japanese Crafts-Materials, Techniques and Regionalities


List of works>> English Chinese Korean

Crafts Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo is moving to Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, and being reopened as National Crafts Museum on October 25, 2020. Focusing on materials, techniques, and regionalities, the first exhibition after the move presents 130 masterpieces of modern Japanese crafts.

In recent years, much attention has been paid to new perspectives on the “regionalities” that have been nurtured in various areas. Japanese crafts have a long history of introducing into their designs the beauties of nature that change from season to season. At the same time, they themselves are made of natural materials. In each region, people have used native materials to create crafts that have lived in our lives. Japanese crafts have developed an amazing diversity rather than uniformity. How have craftspeople faced materials–nature in modernizing Japan? How have they changed their perspectives on nature’s image with the times? How have they developed their relationships with their lands and things? This exhibition illustrates constantly updated “regionalities” in this country through these questions.


Section 1: Analyzing Materials and Techniques

Welcome to the Japanese CraftsMaterials, Techniques, and Regionalities exhibition!

This section is our self introduction, intended for people encountering this museum’s collection for the first time.

Let’s consider the title of one of the works on display: “Long, narrow ornamental box, lattice pattern, underglaze blue and overglaze enamels.” “Long, narrow box” refers to its form and function, “lattice pattern” to the decorative motif, small checks applied diagonally, and “underglaze blue and overglaze enamels” to the techniques used. These titles are long, complicated, and hardly readily accessible. But let’s take a closer look at those rather off-putting titles.

A craft object is a hybrid of materials and techniques. The length of its title is a testimony to the many processes that effected its transformation from materials extracted from nature to a craft object. That title is an “ingredients label,” stating how the work was formed. Please think of each term in that title as a flag saying, “Look at this!”

If you grasp the rules for naming a work and the name’s structure, then you will have hints for discovering the many techniques used to create it. Clay, glass, wood, bamboo, metal, textile: how did the human hand approach and work on that material? How are the material and technique intertwined? First of all, try applying a micro perspective, looking closely and deeply at each of the elements constituting a work, to enhance your enjoyment of examining and analyzing what you see.


Section 2: Nature’s Image Renewed

Japanese craft works have long incorporated images and forms from nature, throughout the four seasons—the traditional themes of natural beauty. Those works were also made from natural materials. How, amidst modernization, have Japanese crafts artists—from the Meiji period’s “superlative craftsmanship” to today’s “high tech”—reinterpreted nature’s image? This section explores that question in terms of the following five themes.


Mimicking and transposing nature


Adaptation—repetition and transcendence




Delicate or coarse. Complicated or simple. Dignified or witty. The image of “nature” sometimes turns, drawing a perfect circle while swinging from opposite poles, forming the style, the mode of its age. Well, then: what position are we at now?


Section 3: Regionalities—Local Climates, Cultures, and Histories

In this final section, we would like to think about the relationships between place, thing, and human beings. The crafts, which live on in our lives and lifestyles thanks to humans working with materials from all sorts of places, have developed immense regional diversity. They are anything but uniform throughout Japan. In this section, we take the relationship between work and place as our axis. Starting with Okinawa, we follow the people and the works associated with a place, across a variety of materials, to conclude our journey here, in Ishikawa.

What is made in a certain place has a touch and a texture based in that soil. Motifs and colors have long been loved as shared assets of that place, transcending materials and genre.
 As you enjoy them, note, too, that the techniques and designs of a certain production site are not unchanging. In fact, they are constantly changing. The history of a place is woven into its craft techniques and materials. In the crafts, “I” (auteurship) and “we” (collaboration) coexist. The artists make discoveries in collaboration with the craftsmen at the production site. Meanwhile, those working at the production site discover utterly new fascination within the materials and techniques long used there. The form of those interactions is carved into their work. Here we explore what the relationships crafts artists have spun between place and thing and the nature of Japan’s constantly renewing cultural climates, its regionalities.


Hours & Admissions

National Crafts Museum
October 25, 2020 - January 11, 2021
*Some exhibits will be changed during the period of the exhibition.
9:30 - 17:30
※Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
on Mondays except October 26, November 23, 2020 and January 11, 2021; November 24, 2020; and from December 28, 2020 to January 1, 2021
Advance ticket is recommended to avoid lines forming at the entrance.
Adults ¥500 / Students (college/university) ¥300
*Free for high school students, under 18.
*Persons with disability and one person accompanying them are admitted free of charge.
*All prices include tax.
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Arts Council


Self Guide for more enjoyable viewing: Japanese Crafts―Materials, Techniques and Regionalities

PDF (Smart Phone)
PDF (A4 Printing data)

National Crafts Museum

3-2 Dewamachi, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa 920-0963


CLOSED today

January 25, 2021 (Mon)