Learning how to make do and mend the Japanese way

The Oxford Times: Muneaki Shimode Muneaki Shimode

VISITORS to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford learned the ancient Japanese practice of kintsugi – mending ceramics with lacquer and powdered gold.

Speaker Tim Toomey explained that the tradition was developed to display the value of precious items which people needed to repair rather than just throw away, if damaged.

Visitors to the workshop were taught by instructor Muneaki Shimode, a craftsman from Kyoto.

Mr Toomey, a tradesman and designer who lived in Japan for seven years, said: “We had an incredible response from people.

“There were people who had come from London and even Switzerland. Muneaki was very keen to show them his craft.”

Unlike in the West, where invisible fixing methods are favoured for broken ornaments, in Japan repairs by kintsugi are supposed to show, Mr Toomey said.

He added: “The parts you are rejoining are convered in lacquer, put back together, sprinkled with the powdered gold and allowed to set.

“Other precious powders can be used – the more precious the item the more precious the powder. In Japan it is not about mending something invisbly, it is about making it conspicuous and showing the breakage has been healed.

“The fact you have gone to the trouble of mending it shows it is valuable to you.”

Mr Toomey said similar events are being planned for the future.

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