Kintsugi is popular among foreigners! Explanation of how to do it and facilities where you can experience it

 

Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

Have you ever heard of Kintsugi, a unique Japanese restoration technique?

This technology is now gaining popularity overseas.

In this article, we will explain why kintsugi is popular among foreigners and the spots where you can experience kintsugi. We will also introduce its history, so even those who are unfamiliar with kintsugi can gain a deeper understanding of it.

 

By experiencing kintsugi, you can learn more about Japan and foreign guests will be very happy to see you. Let’s take a look at the charm of kintsugi!

Why Kintsugi is popular among foreigners

Why is kintsugi gaining popularity among foreigners today? There are three reasons.
The symbol of a culture of waste
High level of restoration techniques and beauty
Culture that does not exist in your country

Symbol of Mottainai Culture

The kintsugi technique of mending broken vessels and ceramics with gold is a symbol of the Mottainai culture.

Kintsugi can be called an art form due to its high level of skill and beauty, but it can also be considered a manifestation of the spirit of the Japanese people to “continue to use things with care.

They use the vessel until it is restored and cherish what they love. In other words, apart from “Reuse,” it also includes “Respect,” and this spirit is supported by foreigners.

It is one of the characteristics of Japanese people to feel sorry when something breaks or to put their feelings into it.

The spirit of “mottainai (wasteful) culture” and “continue to use things with care” are some of the reasons why kintsugi is so popular among foreigners.

High level of restoration techniques, beauty

One of the reasons why kintsugi is so popular among foreigners is because of its high level of restoration techniques and beauty.

Kintsugi does not make a broken plate or vessel as good as new. The shape will be restored using gold, but a mark will remain.

Kintsugi, however, is a technique that makes even these restoration marks look beautiful, and transforms them into something new.

The restoration technique that transforms even unintentional cracks in the vessel into art is amazing, and will make it a piece that you will want to display and admire.

The high level of restoration skill and beauty is one of the charms of kintsugi.

Cultures not found in their own country

The kintsugi technique was developed and popularized uniquely in Japan, and no similar technique exists in other countries.

Because it is a culture that does not exist in their own country, Japanese kintsugi is gaining popularity among foreigners.

To begin with, the idea of mottainai, or giving things a soul, is also a uniquely Japanese way of perceiving things.

Kintsugi is a traditional culture that is gaining popularity overseas as well, as its ideas and techniques are a novelty.

Kintsugi Procedure

Most people are unaware of the correct procedure for kintsugi. If the correct procedure is not followed, the durability of the piece will suffer and it will be difficult to keep it in use for a long time.

The following is an explanation of the proper procedure for kintsugi. There are three major steps in the kintsugi process.

Adhesion of vessels
Filling in the dents in the vessel
Finishing

Adhesion of vessels

First, make a muro by placing a damp towel in a cardboard box.

The next step is to make wheat lacquer. While adding water to the flour, make it hard enough to be slightly stringy, and then add raw lacquer to it. It is best to combine flour + water and raw lacquer at a ratio of 5:5.

The resulting barley lacquer is applied to the cross section of the vessel and the vessels are glued together.

Once glued, place them in the muro you just made and let them rest for about a week. Note that at this time, you need to raise the height of the bowl so that it does not stick to the towel.

Filling in the dents in the vessels

Next, rusty lacquer is made. Rusty lacquer is a paste of lacquer. It is made by mixing grit, water, and raw lacquer.

With rusty lacquer, find the dents in the vessel and fill in the holes. Since it serves to fill in the holes, it is best to use it as a slight pressing motion.

Once the holes are filled, paint urushi on the joints. The joints will be clearly visible and the mood will be lifted after painting. After the painting is finished, scoop out the excess with a cotton swab, and finally apply gold powder.

finishing touches

Scoop gold dust with a brush and apply it over the painted lacquer. It is best to apply the lacquer lightly with a pompon-pomp sensation, rather than applying it all over the lacquer. Leave the lacquer in the muro for three days.

After three days, polish the gold at the joints using polishing powder.
The key is not to apply too much polish.

The above is a rough explanation, but the original kintsugi process is time-consuming because of the polishing and drying periods required. In the case of a class, you can experience the final touches, so you can enjoy kintsugi at your leisure.

Places where foreigners can experience kintsugi

Where can I experience kintsugi? The following is an explanation of the places that actually offer the kintsugi experience.

ceramics class

The best place to experience kintsugi is at a pottery class.

In addition to creating vessels, pottery classes may offer kintsugi (metal-joining) experiences. Kintsugi is a time-consuming process, and it is difficult to learn kintsugi correctly without professional instruction.

In a ceramics class, you can ask questions you don’t understand right away, and you will also learn the right knowledge.

If you would like to experience kintsugi, first contact a pottery school.

Online Courses

Kintsugi can also be experienced online.

Classrooms that received a wide range of online courses at the time of the coronavirus outbreak may still continue to explain their online courses.

The biggest advantage of online is that you can experience it from the comfort of your home or lodging, but you need to prepare your own tools.

Online courses, which require the purchase of tools in advance, are a good option for those who want to continue for a longer period of time.

Precautions for foreigners to take when kintsugi is performed

There are several precautions that foreigners should take when performing kintsugi. Here we will explain some of the precautions to be taken when performing kintsugi.

Some things can’t be kintsugi.

It should be noted that some products and materials are not suitable for kintsugi. Among them, glassware and wooden vessels are particularly difficult and often cannot be completed at the level of hands-on experience.

Also, we do not recommend using items that become hot or remain damp after kintsugi. Kintsugi is not suitable for pots and pans due to its low heat resistance. Vases are also not recommended if water is to be applied to them.

Kintsugi pieces cannot be placed in microwave ovens or dishwashers. This is due to the risk of deterioration and cracking of the restored part when heated.

Keep in mind that kintsugi is not suitable for everyone, and there are many precautions that must be taken even after use.

Try not to get hurt.

Kintsugi is a technique for repairing broken vessels, so care must be taken not to injure yourself on the corners of broken vessels.

Broken vessels can be very dangerous due to sharp corners. Be careful not to use too much force when joining them, as you may injure your hands.

How to handle lacquer

In kintsugi, “urushi” is used as an adhesive when joining pieces, but care must be taken when handling urushi.

Although it varies from person to person, lacquer can cause chapping just by touching the hands, and if it gets on clothing, it can be difficult to remove.

If you have come all the way to Japan on vacation and your clothes are soiled, it will ruin your trip. You need to make preparations in advance, such as wearing a fukake or making a kintsugi with clothes you plan to throw away.

Lacquer has a very important role, but it is good to know that it must be handled with care.

History of Kintsugi

Kintsugi has a long history, and it is believed that lacquer was already used to restore vessels during the Jomon period. However, gold was not yet used at that time.

The technique of restoration using gold seems to have been practiced since the Muromachi period in the 15th century, when tea and the tea ceremony began to be popular. Since tea utensils were expensive at that time, it is thought that people used them carefully for a long time by restoring missing parts.

From that time on, the spirit of mottainai took root in the Japanese people.

There is a story that during the Edo period (1603-1867), a retainer who broke the shogun’s prized vessels restored them by kintsugi (gold-plated joints) in order to beg for his life.
Although the background differs from period to period, the roots of valuing things have not changed.

Facilities where you can experience kintsugi (metal-joining)

This page introduces facilities where foreigners can experience kintsugi (metal-joining). As already mentioned, kintsugi can be experienced at pottery classes. Here are three specific facilities where you can experience kintsugi.

hand-to-mouth piping

Kintsugitsugu offers hands-on kintsugi classes and workshops.

They offer kintsugi (metal-joining) experiences and other services in Asakusa and Ebisu, and they cater to foreigners as well.

There are two courses: a “full-scale kintsugi class” that is attended regularly and a “one-day workshop,” and the one-day workshop is recommended for foreigners visiting on vacation.

Reservations are always required and language support varies by day, so please inquire in advance.

Name: Kintsugitsugitsugu
Official URL: https://kintsugi-girl.com/

Taku Nakano CeramicArts☆

At the class of Taku Nakano, a ceramic artist who is now attracting worldwide attention, a one-day kintsugi (metal-joining) experience is available.

In the past, we have taught ceramics to foreign VIPs, and we are one of the schools that has been featured in the Japanese media. The school is located in Minami-Aoyama and is easily accessible, making it the perfect place for foreigners to experience pottery making!

Advance reservations are required, so it is best to inquire.

Experiencing kintsugi in a fashionable space will be a good memory of your visit to Japan.

Name: Taku Nakano CeramicArts ☆ Saiyogama
Official URL: https://tnca.tokyo/

Nihonbashi Yumeto

Kintsugi experience is also available at long-established lacquerware stores.

This is not a full-scale kintsugi using real lacquer, but a kintsugi using substitute lacquer, so it is less likely to cause chafing and is recommended for enjoying kintsugi with ease.

The vessels and tools are also provided, and the finished vessels can be taken home, making it ideal for visitors traveling from abroad.

If you take home a vessel that you have kintsugi’d yourself, you can also preserve your memories as a form.

Name: Nihonbashi Yumeto
Official URL: https://mutoh-corp.com/

Summary

We understand that you may have some concerns about the kintsugi experience, such as, “Will people be pleased with it? and “What kind of place can I experience it?

Kintsugi is a popular traditional culture that conveys the mottainai spirit of the Japanese people, although the process is difficult. In a hands-on class, you can easily experience only the final touches.
Kintsugi is one of the traditional cultural experiences that foreign guests will enjoy, so if you are considering a traditional cultural experience, kintsugi is highly recommended.

Motenas Japan is also available to plan workshops with kintsugi experience instructors. Please feel free to contact us about arranging interpreters and coordinators, even if you are not comfortable with the language.

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