Culture

The Secret Behind the Beauty of Japanese Ceramics

Sep 22, 2016

If you've ever accidentally dropped a mug or bowl only to see it shatter into pieces, then your reaction was probably that of shock and frustration, followed by the sadness of sweeping the shards into the garbage. Well, that's one way to see things, and another is how traditional Japanese culture sees broken things. Kintsugi, or “golden joinery,” is a 500-year old method of mending a broken item by "gluing" pieces back together using a lacquer that is mixed with gold, silver, or platinum.

The result? Visually stunning rivers of gold glimmering in the cracks of ceramic ware, which give an entirely new and unique appearance to the piece. And the thought process behind this repair method is equally beautiful: kintsugi celebrates the artifact's life and history by emphasizing the flaws and breaks instead of hiding (or entirely getting rid of) them. In all honesty, the end result sort of makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than it was originally.

The philosophy of respecting and treasuring items and not creating waste runs deep in Japanese culture. It is also related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the beauty in flawed or imperfect things. So next time you look in the mirror, embrace your flaws, for they're what make everyone beautiful and unique.

Photo: kintsugi.com