The Spirit of Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken bowls with lacquer and gold. It can make the restored object more beautiful - and often more  valuable - than the original vessel.

So the very visible scars of brokenness become precious enhancements, the bowl a unique work of art. As a result, kintsugi has become a symbol of how human brokenness can lead to a new sense of inner wholeness and beauty.

In this edition of Things Unseen, we hear the stories of people who’ve found meaning in the spirit of kintsugi – people who’ve been through difficult times and discovered that the scars of their brokenness are nothing to be ashamed of. That those scars have, in fact, made them whole on a new and deeper level.

Among them are the Rev Hannah Barraclough, a curate at Portsmouth Cathedral, who by her own admission went through a difficult, drink and drug-fuelled time as a teenager before finding her way back to God; Symon Sweet, an actor who for many years struggled with depression; and ceramicist and tea ceremony student Bonnie Kemske, who found the symbolic power of kintsugi helpful in coming to terms with her brother’s death. Bonnie has since become an expert on kintsugi and written a book about it.

We also hear from Kintsugi practitioner Maiko Tsutsumi as she repairs a broken bowl, giving it fresh beauty and a whole new lease of life.


Programme link:


Photo credit: Tea bowl by Bonnie Kemske with kintsugi repair by Ronald Pile. Photo by Vilokini Gail Abbott. In memory of Alex Fraser.


Photo alt text:

Tea bowl with golden kintsugi repairs clearly visible, held by someone in both hands.


Loved the comment 'look at the bowl, not the cracks'

K Howells, listener
8th February 2023
Produced and introduced by: Lore Windemuth Wolfson