Recent years have witnessed Japan’s rediscovered interest in something the West received with wild enthusiasm in the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Export crafts made for late 19th-century and early 20th-century European and American markets were part of the Meiji government’s promotion of industry. Participating officially in world fairs since the 1873 Vienna World Exposition, Japan’s craft sectors, from ceramics through embroidery, lacquer, metalwork and others, were tremendously popular, award-winning and commanded stiff prices.
The 2014 nationwide touring exhibition “Kogei: Superlative Craftsmanship from Meiji Japan” rekindled local interest. “Amazing Craftsmanship! From Meiji Kogei to Contemporary Art,” which has been touring the country since late 2017, is now at the Abeno Harukas Art Museum in Osaka and seeks to capitalize on past successes.