Kintsugi Philosophy: The Value of a Broken Bowl

There’s a folk story that in the 15th century a mighty Japanese shogun warrior broke his favorite tea bowl and sent it to China for repair. Instead of returning as the lovely bowl he had known, it returned with ugly metal staples holding it together. It was usable, but the shogun was disappointed in its appearance.

In search of a better solution, he asked a Japanese craftsman to come up with a more elegant solution, one that would add to the beauty of the tea bowl, despite the cracks, and still allow the bowl to be functional. The craftsman tried something new and mended the cracks with lacquer resin mixed with gold—a golden glue. When the shogun warrior received his bowl the second time, streaks of gold ran through it where the cracks had been before. He thought the bowl looked even better than it had before it was broken. This method of repair became known as kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese philosophy of recognizing beauty in broken things. It speaks of breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise or hide. When you look at your life, you may notice places that feel broken. Many of these broken pieces are the result of someone else’s actions and are not your fault.

You can find the beauty in your own breakage. Just as the shogun’s tea bowl became more beautiful and valued through repair, your healing only enhances your inherent value. We don’t celebrate the fact that you were abused, but we absolutely celebrate the wonderful person you are and will become as you continue on your healing journey, creating your real-life version of Kintsugi.

Your wounds and healing are part of your history—a part of who you are. No matter what breaks you’ve experienced, you are beautiful.