Meaning “joining with gold”, this centuries-old art is more than an aesthetic. For the Japanese, it’s part of a broader philosophy of embracing the beauty of human flaws.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. Every break is unique and instead of repairing an item like new, the 400-year-old technique actually highlights the “scars” as a part of the design. Using this as a metaphor for healing ourselves teaches us an important lesson: Sometimes in the process of repairing things that have broken, we actually create something more unique, beautiful and resilient.

Although most people won’t intentionally break pottery pieces they love, this is not the norm in Japanese culture. Broken ceramics are decorated with lacquer and powdered-gold, a Japanese tradition dating back more than 500 years. This is a way to highlight imperfections instead of hiding them. This is not only a way to calmly break a beloved piece of pottery, but it also reminds us of the beauty and fragility of our human nature.

It may seem odd to embrace the old and broken in a world that values youth, perfection, and excess. Kintsugi is a 15th-Century tradition that encourages people to embrace the old and battered. It means “to join with Gold” and reminds us to be positive when things go wrong and to enjoy the small victories in life.Kintsugi is an extension to the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi.

It sees beauty and value in the imperfect. It takes three months to restore the broken pieces with gilded gold. The fragments are carefully glued together using the sap from an indigenous Japanese tree. After drying for a few weeks, the cracks are covered with gold.

It is important to learn to accept and embrace imperfections and flaws in an age of mass production, quick disposal, and human sustainability.

Wabi sabi: admire imperfection
Wabi sabi is about celebrating imperfections and living simply. “Everyone goes through tough times and leading a life of perfection isn’t necessarily realistic,” Kumai says. In Japanese, wabi means alone and sabi is the passage of time. Together, they teach us how to embrace the good and bad parts of ourselves and the asymmetry of life. Dr. Rachel O’Neill, LPCC, a therapist at Talkspace, says, “Embracing the imperfect means that we celebrate our strengths. This shift of mindset, from striving for an impossible ideal to embracing our strengths, leads to a more positive and strength-oriented mindset.”

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — a metaphor for embracing your flaws and imperfections.

Kintsugi reminds us that something can break and yet still be beautiful, and that, once repaired, it is stronger at the broken places. … This is an incredible metaphor for healing and recovery from adversity.

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