Special Talk on Japanese Mingei
“Everyday Contem : A Chance to Improve
and Drive the Handicrafts“
The Japan Foundation, Bangkok, in collaboration with Creative Economy Agency (CEA) via Thailand Creative & Design Center Chiang Mai (TCDC Chiang Mai) proudly presented a special talk of “Everyday Contem: A Chance to Improve and Drive the Handicrafts” onSunday 3 December 2023, 13:30 – 14:30 at Association of Cultural Promotion for Ladies Sri Lanna Chiang Mai near TCDC Chiang Mai.
The talk was aimed to reflect as to how we could learn and apply Mingei concept with the ongoing challenges faced by local artisans in the North and probably in other regions of Thailand where the intrinsic values of handicrafts and makers have been overshadowed, if not distorted, by the changing world. Originally, Mingei (民藝) translates as “folk craft” or “folk art,” coined in 1925 by Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961) with his potter fellows Hamada Shoji (1984 -1978) and Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966). Mingei concept and movement arose amidst the time of rapid westernization and industrialization in Japan as an endeavor to emphasize the beauty of ordinary, simple and functional everyday objects made by anonymous craftsmen against the higher forms of art created by named artists. Significantly, it was said that the beauty would “be born” only in a “communal” society where people not only collaborated with one another but also along with the nature. In retrospect of the current situations of local handicrafts in Thailand, it was high time that we should rethink about the way forward of how local handicrafts and artisans could survive through creative networking collaboration while adhering to the true inherent identity and natural resources bestowed locally.
On this occasion, therefore, Ms. Yoshizawa Tomo, cultural translator with extensive knowledge about Mingei, gave a talk to share the origin of Mingei in Japan and its contemporary development by unraveling successful elements which have rendered Mingei’s essences indispensably relevant with Japanese handicrafts until nowadays through her accumulated insights and experiences. It was hoped that this talk would give rise to the mutual learning and understanding about how to pinpoint the identity of local Thai handicrafts by collaborating with artisans and designers and progress forward with the values and experiences learned from Mingei in Japan.
The Japan Foundation, Bangkok co-organized this event in Chiang Mai with Creative Economy Agency (CEA) via Thailand Creative & Design Center Chiang Mai (TCDC Chiang Mai) as a part of Chiang Mai Design Week 2023 themed “TRANS-FORMING LOCAL.”
Venue: Association of Cultural Promotion for Ladies Sri Lanna -Thai, Chiang Mai near TCDC Chiang Mai
Sunday 3 December 2023
13:00 – 13:30 Registration
13:30 – 14:15 Special talk by Ms. Yoshizawa Tomo, (45 min)
14:15 – 14:30 Q&A
About the speaker
Born into a family of craftsmen; her mother is a pongee silk weaver and her father makes koto, Japanese musical instrument, from paulownia wood. Her grandfather is recognised as Intangible Important Cultural Property of Japan (National Living Treasure) for his weaving pattern technique.
After graduating from the University of Surrey in the UK, Tomo worked in MTV Japan, followed a very sharp turn into the world of Japanese crafts as a shop manager, both of which helped her see the importance of communications. She was the first to be appointed as the international public relations for culture in Tokyo government leading up to the Tokyo 2020.
Yoshizawa has been closely working with the William Morris Gallery in London, UK, preparing for the “Mingei / Art Without Heroes” exhibition starting in March 2024. She writes bi-weekly columns about people surrounding Mingei today in the Japanese newspaper; Shinano Mainichi Shinbun. Her latest translation works include “Kawai Kanjiro’s House” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the place opened after the passing of one of the founding members of the Mingei Movement. In her recent attempt to pass on wisdom found in Japanese culture, craftsmanship and philosophy, Tomo founded a platform called Wisdom Toolkit.
Now she also writes, translates, and interviews in the fields of Japanese crafts and culture, with the scope of providing an authentic understanding with the angle of universal relatability in the modern context.
Co- organized by