Kintsugi: More Than Just Pottery


What is Kintsugi?

Kintsugi, written 金継ぎ in Japanese, means “golden joinery,” or “join with gold.” This refers to the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. Though the origins of this practice are unknown, it has been a part of Japan’s history for several centuries.

How is Kintsugi Done?
Traditionally, broken pottery was joined with sap from an indigenous Japanese plant known as urushi. Related to poison ivy, urushi sap is toxic when wet but harmless when dry. This sap was used despite being poisonous when wet because, in finished form, the sap is resistant to heat and alcohol, waterproof, and resistant to acidic foods and liquids. Kintsugi is now done with synthetic lacquer and epoxy, but the traditional method is still used.

The Symbolism of Kintsugi
Kintsugi ties into the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which has two central ideas. The first is wabi, written 侘び in Japanese, which means that modest and straightforward things are tasteful. The second idea is sabi, written 寂び in Japanese, which refers to the beauty that comes with time. Kintsugi ties into this philosophy because it teaches us to accept our flaws as a part of who we are. As puts it, rather than hiding our imperfections, the cracks become part of its unique history and enhance its beauty.

Kintsugi and Mental Health
Kintsugi has been used as a symbol of resilience and acceptance that we all have flaws. It teaches us to stay optimistic when things fall apart and embrace our imperfections. It teaches us to remain optimistic when things fall apart and embrace our imperfections.