Kintsugi

Now, here’s a thing. What do you know about the Japanese art of Kintsugi? Nothing?  Well, that’s what I knew before I recently read an article about it (actually a review of two books)[1].

Kintsugi is the art of repairing pottery and binding the parts together with lacquer and covering the joins with powdered gold or silver.  For example, “Seppo” (“Snowy peak” in English) is a tea bowl made by the famous 17th century designer and calligrapher Hon’ami Koetsu.  It came out of the kiln damaged and Koetsu’s repair added golden rivers cascading down the slopes of the snowy peak that features in the design. It does require a degree of skill of course, any attempt I made to mend a broken bowl would probably not qualify!

Now, I think the notion of something being broken and then becoming even more glorious and valuable because of a repair, is particularly resonant for Christians at Easter. As the article say, ‘Enticingly the technique not only repairs a damaged treasure, but leaves it lovelier and more valuable.’

Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter did exactly that – the perfect world made by God had been broken by sin. Christ’s sacrifice, taking away that sin, has not only restored what was broken (man’s fellowship with God in particular), but made it altogether more beautiful. Now, it remains a work in progress, with the final restoration complete only when the second coming happens and there is a ‘new Heaven and new Earth’, but  we can see  it at least in part at this present time.  This notion can also help us to understand the course of human history and why God allowed sin into the world in the first place.  Not least, it allowed him to show the depth of his love for his creation and for men and women created in his own image.

One of the books covered in the review, ‘Art and Faith’[2]is written by a Christian artist, Makato Fujimara.  He is described as ‘(framing) the redemption of Kintsugi as a parable of the Christian approach to creativity. ‘ He is quoted as writing “It is precisely through our brokenness and fissures that God’s grace can shine”.  Also, “…thanks to Jesus, our fissure become filled with gold”.  Fujimara often carries out his repairs with very expensive materials, off-setting the effects of age and wear with artistic abundance.  Again, that seems a powerful metaphor for our wasted broken lives being restored to value by the precious blood of Jesus.

Now, to be honest I am not really an art aficionado and have never really been that interested in what I have seen of Japanese art, but this seems like an interesting idea.  So, the next time you stand with your hands on your ears as a mug falls out of a cupboard or the next time you notice a bowl has a crack in it, think about the art of Kintsugi that can not only mend something that is broken but also add further appeal and value to it.  Then give thanks to God because Christ has done that for you. 

If you do not know Christ and you are still in that broken state then think about what Christ can do for you – dealing with your sin, restoring your relationship with God and giving you added meaning in your life.

Have a Happy Easter


[1] ‘A crack in everything’ – the Economist, 20 March 2021

[2] ‘Art and Faith’  – Makoto Fujimara , Yale University Press, 2021