KOGEI USA is a U.S. nonprofit organization whose aim is to raise awareness of Japanese art outside Japan. Under the three-part slogan “Securing Our Heritage | Nurturing Our Traditions | Building Our Futures,” KOGEI USA will mount exhibitions, facilitate gifts of art to leading international museums, and sponsor artist workshops and other outreach programs, with the support of the Government of Japan.

KOGEI USA takes its name from the Japanese word kōgei (工芸), originally coined over a century ago simply to translate the word “craft.” KOGEI is endowed today, however, with a much higher significance, denoting Japanese hand-made artifacts that, while innovative and original, continue to be made using traditional philosophies, materials, and techniques. For a work to be described as KOGEI, it must reflect not just contemporary creativity but also an uncompromising dedication to perfection, refinement, and the preservation of techniques handed down from generation to generation over many centuries.

In the US and Europe, this new KOGEI ideal has already stimulated fresh appreciation for Japanese culture, encouraging consumers to incorporate hand-made Japanese artifacts in their day-to-day living. One of our goals at KOGEI USA is to communicate this wave of Western enthusiasm back to Japan and promote awareness, especially among younger artists, of exciting new opportunities to promote their work in overseas markets.

Another core mission of KOGEI USA is to showcase “Living National Treasures” (known formally as “Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties”), senior artists whose lifetime of achievement has been officially recognized by the Government of Japan. Seen alongside the work of younger talents, masterpieces by “Living National Treasures” will help visitors to KOGEI USA’s international exhibitions and events deepen their understanding of Japan’s cultural heritage and its future opportunities. In addition, KOGEI USA will cultivate further global connections by promoting exchange with non-Japanese artists who share our passion for preserving and handing down the best of the world’s traditional hand-made arts.

In 2021, Nana Onishi, founder of KOGEI USA and principal of Onishi Gallery,  collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its acquisition of 18 pieces of contemporary Japanese metalwork. The acquisition was marked by an exhibition that was supported by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Japan and sponsored by leading Japanese IT company Digital Garage and its CEO Kaoru Hayashi, who purchased and donated the works to the Museum’s Department of Japanese Art. As Mr. Hayashi commented at the time:

Artistic creativity knows no borders. I appreciate works from many different cultures, but I’ve found that overseas audiences who focus purely on international contemporary art sometimes find it hard to appreciate the finer points of modern Japanese crafts with their roots in traditional practice. In Europe and especially in the United States it’s taken for granted that public museums are sustained as much by private generosity as they are by the taxpayer, but Japanese philanthropists aren’t yet fully on board with this funding model. As a Japanese collector, I feel it’s my duty to both foster wider understanding of my country’s culture and encourage private generosity toward the museum sector.

KOGEI USA is registered as a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.




KOGEI USA は日本の伝統文化と芸術に対する海外での認識を高めるため、日本政府の協力の下、「文化遺産を受け継ぎ、伝統を育み、未来を築く」をスローガンとし、世界各国で展覧会を開き、主要美術館に対する美術品の贈呈を促し、作家によるワークショップなどのアウトリーチ活動を主催する米国の非営利団体です。

KOGEI USA の名は「craft」の訳語として一世紀以上前に作られた造語「工芸」に由来しますが、今日のKOGEIは伝統的な精神と技法と素材を受け継ぎながら、尚且つ斬新で独創的な高い芸術性を持った手作りの品を指します。作品がKOGEIと呼ばれるには現代的な創造性ばかりでなく、完璧なものを求める断固たる姿勢と高度に洗練された感性、そして何世紀にも渡り代々受け継がれてきた技法の継承を反映していなければなりません。

欧米では、この新しいKOGEIの概念が既に日本文化に対する新たな評価を促し、日常生活にも日本の手作りの工芸品が取り入れられるようになっています。KOGEI USAの目的の一つは、こうした日本文化に対する西洋の関心を日本に逆輸入し、特に若手の工芸作家たちに、海外に作品を紹介し販路を広げる魅力的なチャンスがあることを伝え、工芸産業の活性化の一役を担うことにあります。

KOGEI USAのもう一つの主要目的は、日本政府から生涯の功績を公に認められた人間国宝(無形重要文化財)作家の作品を紹介することにあります。KOGEI USAが主催する国際的展覧会や文化イベントを訪れる人々は、国宝級の名品を若手作家の作品と並べて見ることによって、日本文化の遺産と将来の可能性をより深く理解することとなるでしょう。加えてKOGEI USAは、最高水準の伝統的な手作り芸術を継承し、未来に伝えることへの情熱を共有する海外の作家との交流も促進し、さらに世界的な繋がりを築いていきます。

2021年、KOGEI USAの創立者で大西ギャラリーのオーナー大西ななは、ニューヨーク・メトロポリタン美術館による日本の現代金属工芸品18点の入手に協力しました。これを記念して日本の文化庁の後援の下で開かれた展覧会には、大手IT企業デジタルガレージとそのCEO林郁氏が協賛しました。林氏は18点の作品全てを買い取り、同美術館日本美術部に寄贈したのです。林氏はその際、次のように語っています。