Yobitsugi: Exploring Traditional Japanese Techniques

What is yobitsugi?

Yobitsugi is a technique for repairing broken vessels using pieces from different vessels. If a vessel is broken into pieces, it is easy to guess which pieces should be joined together, isn't it? But it is very difficult to join different vessels together. Since no two vessels have exactly the same pieces, the joints are made by repeatedly making slight modifications as the pieces are cut. The materials used for joining vessels are different, and although it is a highly difficult restoration technique, it may be the only way to enjoy the pleasure of creating a unique and original work of art.

Yobitsugi is also used for kintsugi

Yobitsugi can also be enjoyed as kintsugi by using natural lacquer and finishing it with gold powder. Since it is more difficult than regular kintsugi, it may be better to do it in a phase when you are somewhat accustomed to restoring vessels. In the usual kintsugi process, one ceramic piece is often glued together, but joining different vessels is also different and interesting. It can be an item that makes a room more fashionable both for viewing and for actually placing on the dining table.

History of Yobitsugi

Kintsugi is a unique Japanese restoration technique that has been handed down since around the Muromachi period. This technique of restoring broken or chipped ceramics and lacquerware with lacquer also has the SDGs' point of view of taking good care of things. However, it is also said that people found beauty in the technique, rather than just repairing things. The technique of "yobitsugi" was born out of this process. Some tea masters not only spliced broken vessels but also intentionally broke vessels and reconnected them. The oldest surviving yobitsugi is said to be that of Oda Yurakusai, a younger brother of Oda Nobunaga and a disciple of Sen no Rikyu. Many other yobitsugi were also left behind as masterpieces in each period. In the Mino region of Japan, yobitsugi have become indispensable as a good-luck talisman for brides-to-be, because "once attached, they cannot be separated. Some people even enjoy making a single piece of work over time by buying pieces at antique fairs or at shops that deal in old things.

How to perform yobitsugi?

There are two ways to do yobitsugi: using synthetic glue or the traditional method of using natural lacquer. If you want to enjoy yobitsugi, choose the technique according to the purpose of the vessel to be restored.

modern kintsugi

The advantage is that the adhesive is easy to apply and dries quickly, so this method is recommended for those who want to repair as quickly as possible. It is also strong, so those who want to do it simply should consider it. The disadvantage is that it is not safe. It is wise not to use this method on glasses, cups, plates, etc., that are to be put in contact with the mouth. It is safer to use it on vases and ornaments that are not to be put in the mouth. It should be used only for ornamental purposes in an empty state, as the adhesive will dissolve if immersed in water for a long period of time.

traditional kintsugi

The advantage is that it is safe and can be used for everyday tableware. The natural lacquer used is tougher than modern chemical paints and has durability, water resistance, heat insulation, and antiseptic properties. Lacquer and the Japanese people have a long history, and it has been used as an ornament since the Jomon period. Lacquer also has antibacterial properties and is said to be more resistant to spoilage than other vessels, to the extent that food can be stored in a lacquer-coated vessel for several days without problems. The disadvantage is that natural lacquer is becoming increasingly scarce, with production in Japan on the decline. It is said that it takes 10 to 15 years for a lacquer tree to grow and produce sap, so it may become more difficult to obtain in the future.

Yobitsugi works

Tomomi Kamoshita Instagram

This piece was made by joining two different pieces of pottery together. The pieces were originally to be returned to their original state, but by daring to combine them with another piece, two completely different pieces of pottery were successfully created. Although the two pieces are about the same size, it is also important that the shapes of the pieces match and that they are compatible with each other. Thus, it is very interesting that pieces of the same size can be matched even if the edges do not match or have different designs.


This piece is made by using multiple pieces of shards to make a joint. It is a work that requires a very high level of skill. It can be said that this is a way of reusing ceramic shards that would normally be discarded, by joining them together in this way, which is also a way of taking good care of things for a long time and not producing waste. Even if at first glance it seems that the piece does not fit at all, it can be reused through trial and error, and the design can be made original, creating a truly one-of-a-kind work of art.

Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery Instagram

With yobitsugi, even one-of-a-kind pieces that have been carefully handled can be brought back to life again. This piece is a tea bowl made by a famous Japanese ceramic artist that has been revived as a new work of art by adding a twist to it through the process of yobitsugi. It is wonderful to revive a gift given by a loved one or a one-of-a-kind item that cannot be bought on the market anymore, even if it was accidentally damaged. Furthermore, the best part of yobitsugi is that you can enjoy the pleasure of imagining a new work of art by yourself. It is a great pleasure to be able to add your own twist to a wonderful potter's work.