Soetsu Yanagi, known as first advocator of the Mingei Movement, was born in Tokyo in 1889. He took part in the launch of the magazine 'Shirakaba' in 1910 and actively worked as a central member of the Shirakaba literary school. Then he began to take a deep interest in arts and the philosophy of religion.
In 1914, Yanagi encountered ceramics of Joseon Dynasty introduced by Asakawa Noritaka and Takumi brothers. Triggered by this, Yanagi got attracted to the peculiar beauty of form and shape Joseon people produced. In 1924, Yanagi founded the Korean Folk Art Museum ('Korean Folk-arts Gallery' in Yanagi's English） in Seoul.
Later, Yanagi came to pay attention to his own country, Japan. The first thing which attracted Yanagi's eye was a folk Buddha in Edo period called Mokujiki sculpture. As Yanagi traveled various areas in Japan to investigate folk Buddha, he was gradually paying attention to the healthy and the honest beauty which he found in ordinary people's craftworks made by unknown craftspeople.
It was 1925 when Yanagi, together with potter Kanjiro Kawai and Shoji Hamada, coined the term 'Mingei' literally meaning 'folk crafts' or 'common crafts'. In the following year, he announced a prospectus for the formation of a museum of folk crafts and started in earnest the movement to establish a museum.