japanese art of repairing with gold

What is japanese art of repairing with gold called?

The technique of repairing with gold is called "Kintsugi"

“Kintsugi" is a combination of two words “Kin” and “tsugi”.“Kin” means gold, and “tsugi” means to join. This is a traditional Japanese technique used to repair broken ceramics.The kintsugi technique was established in Japan about 400 years ago, and developed along with the spread of the tea ceremony. At that time, tea utensils used for the tea ceremony were very expensive and could not be easily thrown away if broken. Therefore, the kintsugi technique took root as a method of restoring important tea utensils. The tradition has been handed down to the present day, and kintsugi is widely enjoyed not only by kintsugi craftsmen but also by others who use kits at home or participate in workshops.

Q&A on Kintsugi

We have picked up 10 frequently asked questions about Kintsugi, one of the art forms using gold. If you have any questions about Kintsugi, please take a look.

Q1 Does kintsugi use real gold?

It uses real gold. The actual materials used are natural lacquer and gold, etc. However, in a new technique called modern kintsugi, you can also experience kintsugi using synthetic glue and gold powder. When using synthetic materials, care should be taken to avoid using them on eating utensils or cups. For more information, please see this article.


Q2 Why is gold used for repair in Japan?

In fact, when repairing broken ceramics, silver and copper are also used. Each has its own characteristics, but the reasons why gold is chosen may be because of its "beauty" and "stability”. Regarding beauty, as you all know, gold can be used to decorate the seams of broken vessels to make them even more beautiful. As for stability, gold may have been used because it does not rust and is highly stable when repairing broken vessels. Gold is of course not an easy material to obtain, but it is said that about 400 years ago, when kintsugi was started, noble tea utensils were repaired by kintsugi when they were broken. In order to repair expensive tea utensils, they may have had plenty of money available for repairs.

Q3 What is the Japanese belief in kintsugi?

Kintsugi has the concept of "accepting rather than denying breakage”. By decorating damaged areas with gold, it is considered important to respect past stories and experiences and create new beauty. This is in line with the Zen mindset of "accepting things as they are”. Concentrate on the present moment and do not be swayed by the past or the future. Kintsugi teaches us such a life lesson. The process of repairing vessels with a calm and unmindful mind is mentally very relaxing.

Q4 What is the philosophy of Kintsugi?

The philosophy of Kintsugi is not to seek perfection in things, but rather to focus on finding the unique beauty in things. It accepts that breaks and scratches are part of things, and by repairing them, new value and beauty are created. This approach focuses on the unique beauty that emerges from the changes and experiences rather than the perfection of things. The philosophy of kintsugi is not one of perfection, but rather one that celebrates the diversity and beauty of things.

Q5 Is kintsugi expensive?

The price of commissioning a kintsugi repair varies greatly depending on the object to be restored and the difficulty of the restoration. There is a wide price range from expensive to affordable, but you should expect to pay around $100 to $200. The craftsman's skill and the materials used will also affect the price, as will the degree of damage to the item. Generally, kintsugi is considered one of the more expensive restoration methods, but prices vary on a case-by-case basis.

Q6 Is Kintsugi food safe?

Whether or not Kintsugi is food safe depends on the materials used in the restoration and the method. Traditional kintsugi techniques are food safe because they use natural lacquer and real gold. It is safe to use on cups and plates for daily use. On the other hand, modern kintsugi uses synthetic materials and should not be used on items that come in contact with food. Although modern kintsugi is called "kintsugi," it basically does not use real gold, and synthetic adhesives are used to glue the broken pieces together. Unlike natural lacquer, kintsugi is not safe for the human body, so care should be taken. Please refer to the following article for a detailed explanation of this point.


Q7 What is the level of damage that can be repaired by Kintsugi?

Kintsugi can handle a wide range of damage levels. It is possible to repair small chips, cracks, and breaks, as well as major damage. Of course, the smaller the damage, the shorter the time required to complete the process and the lower the difficulty level, so it is possible to repair the damage personally. On the other hand, if the item is large, such as a large vase or vase, or if the damage is extensive, it is best to hire a specialist. Be aware that even veterans may not accept large-scale damage in some cases, and that the restoration period may take as long as 3~6 months in some cases. These kintsugi techniques vary depending on the ceramics to be repaired and the characteristics of the damaged area, but basically a wide range of restorations can be performed, making it a popular means of prolonging the life of valuable vessels.

Q8 Are the repaired items practical in daily life?

Restored items can be used in daily life. Vessels restored by Kintsugi can withstand use in daily life while maintaining their strength and durability. Of course, this does not mean that the item has the same level of durability as before it was damaged, and it is still somewhat fragile, so gentle and careful handling is the key to long use. In addition, it is best to avoid soaking kintsugi items in water for long periods of time or using an open flame, so please keep these precautions in mind when using kintsugi items. Please refer to the following article for more information on cautions for kintsugi items.


Q9 Where can I find sources of information to learn about kintsugi?

Information about kintsugi can be found in books, online resources, or opportunities to learn directly from experts. Books provide basic techniques, history, and practical guides, while online resources can be learned through video tutorials and forums. You can also learn hands-on techniques by attending workshops and classes. There is also a Youtube channel and Udemy course run by a Japanese craftsman to learn about kintsugi, if you are interested.


Q10 Are there any kits available for individuals to try kintsugi?


There are recommended kits for individuals to try kintsugi. If you are trying it for the first time or repairing an ornamental item, you can prepare synthetic glue and gold powder at a home improvement store or start with an inexpensive modern kintsugi kit. If you want to enjoy kintsugi in a serious, food-safe manner, we recommend starting with a kintsugi kit that uses natural lacquer. The following kits are recommended as they are repair kits sold by Japanese kintsugi craftsmen.