The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty

The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty

Author(s): Soetsu Yanagi

Publisher: Kodansha International Ltd.

ISBN: 0870119486

ISBN-13: 978-0870119484

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The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty

Paperback 230 pages
Revised edition
February 1990

This book challenges the conventional ideas of art and beauty. What is the value of things made by an anonymous craftsman working in a set tradition for a lifetime? What is the value of handwork? Why should even the roughly lacquered rice bowl of a Japanese farmer be thought beautiful? The late Soetsu Yanagi was the first to fully explore the traditional Japanese appreciation for “objects born, not made.”

Mr. Yanagi sees folk art as a manifestation of the essential world from which art, philosophy, and religion arise and in which the barriers between them disappear. The implications of the author’s ideas are both far-reaching and practical.

Soetsu Yanagi is often mentioned in books on Japanese art, but this is the first translation in any Western language of a selection of his major writings. The late Bernard Leach, renowned British potter and friend of Mr. Yanagi for fifty years, has clearly transmitted the insights of one of Japan’s most important thinkers. The seventy-six plates illustrate objects that underscore the universality of his concepts. The author’s profound view of the creative process and his plea for a new artistic freedom within tradition are especially timely now when the importance of craft and the handmade object is being rediscovered.

The Lesson of Japanese Architecture

The Lesson of Japanese ArchitectureAuthor(s): Jiro Harada

Publisher: Dover Pubns

ISBN: 0486247783

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Published in 1954 (1st ed. 1936), the book contains articles introducing Japanese Architecture, along with black-and-white photographs of Japanese buildings and establishments, of which many were sadly destroyed during the Second World War. It’s concise and non-technical; anyone with an interest in Japanese architecture is strongly recommended to read this book. Although it was published more than half a century ago, one could not help but be struck by the fact that the Japanese architectural principles are still as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. (Of course, the history of Japanese architecture traces back to many centuries…)