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The National Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2021!

Awareness of Kintsugi has risen to over 50%

Awareness of Kintsugi has risen to over 50% with more people spending time at home and with the growing recognition of  SDGs! Presenting to you the National Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2021!

Kintsugi was only scarcely known a year ago. Let us share our findings on how this ecological tradition has grown in popularity during the global pandemic and how it has been embraced by millennials!

We conducted a follow-up survey to the October 2021 Awareness Survey.

The results of the new May 2021 survey show how the awareness of kintsugi has changed among Japanese women during the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing recognition of SDGs.

美しく修理された金継ぎ器たち
(↑Memories restored by kintsugi.)

Why did we conduct the Kintsugi Awareness Survey in 2021?

The spread of COVID-19 through Japan resulted in the Japanese spending more time at home. 

The media featured kintsugi as something to do during the pandemic, and this helped with the popularity of kintsugi. 

Kintsugi addresses some ecological challenges posed in our world day; the heart of the art is to cherish and to use vessels for a long time through care and repair.

We established our company specializing in kintsugi-related services in March 2020. 

We must say kintsugi was not as well-known then as we hoped. 

However, it has been our observation that the demand for kintsugi has increased recently. 

We conducted our new survey because we wanted to confirm our impression through facts and figures, and we wanted to find how the current situation with the global pandemic and the growing interest in sustainability has impacted the world of kintsugi.

Kintsugi Survey Parameters

Tokyo Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2019 (Previous)

Online Survey conducted on October 3rd, 2019;

111 women living in Tokyo took the survey. 

The age distribution of the sample:

  • 1% – teenagers
  • 18% – 20s
  • 38% – 30s
  • 28% –  40s
  • 12% – 50s
  • 3% – 60s
  • 1% – 70s.

National Awareness Survey 2021 (New)

Online Survey conducted on May 26th, 2021;

233 women living in Japan took the survey. 

The age distribution of the sample:

  • 1% – teenagers
  • 26% – 20s
  • 38% – 30s
  • 25% – 40s
  • 10% – 50s
  • 1% – 60s and above

The parameters of the new survey are not exactly the same as the previous one.  

The new survey was taken by more people, and it features questions that were not asked in the previous survey.

National Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2021 Results

Q1. Do you have a damaged vessel that you cannot get yourself to throw away because it has sentimental value to you?  (Not limited to expensive vessels)

To our surprise, about 1 in 3 people (37.8%) respondents indicated that they have a damaged vessel that they have not been able to throw away.

Looking at our results, the proportion of such people increased with age – more than half of those over 50 years old fall in this category.  

One in four respondents in their 20s and one in three respondents in their 30s indicated that they retain damaged vessels. 

We observe that there is a shift in the thinking among these age groups; people are starting to care more about their belongings in this age of mass production and mass consumption.

Q2. Do you know what kintsugi is?

  • I know what kintsugi is. I have done kintsugi or I have requested kintsugi repair  (1.7%).
  • I know what kintsugi is. However, I have never done kintsugi nor have I requested kintsugi repair (34.3%).
  • I know what kintsugi is.  However, I have never done kintsugi nor have I required kintsugi repair, and I do not plan to in the future (20.2%).
  • I do not know what kintsugi is (43.5%).

The previous survey from October 2019 showed that only 41% of the respondents knew what kintsugi was.  However, the new survey shows that 56% of the respondents know what kintsugi is. The proportion of those who know what kintsugi is and do not know what kintsugi is flipped between the two surveys.

The new survey shows that the awareness of kintsugi rose by about 15% among Japanese women. 

Furthermore, the survey reveals that the awareness of kintsugi by age group: 43% for the 20s, 56% for the 30s, 66% for the 40s, and 65% for the 50s.  Compared to the previous survey, the increase of awareness among those in their 20s is remarkable.

Only 2% of the respondents indicated that they know what kintsugi is and have actually done kintsugi or have requested kintsugi repair.  However, 34% of these respondents expressed an interest in kintsugi.  This shows that there is a gap between the demand for kintsugi and the availability of kintsugi services.

Q3. What about kintsugi do you find appealing?  If you have ever done kintsugi, please indicate the reason why.

The majority of the respondents (45%) indicated that they find kintsugi appealing because they “can repair their precious vessels themselves and use them again.”  This was followed by those who indicated that – with kintsugi – they “can use the imperfection of the vessels to embellish the vessel as a work of art” (28%).  Furthermore, 11% of the respondents indicated that they find kintsugi appealing because they “can experience Japanese tradition and culture.” However, 10% of the respondents indicated that they “do not want to do kintsugi,” and 6% indicated that they “do not find kintsugi appealing.”

Of the respondents, 88% of those who indicated that “have a damaged vessel that you cannot get yourself to throw away because it has sentimental value ” indicated that they find kintsugi appealing.  Not only that, but 82% of the respondents who indicated that they do not “have a damaged vessel that you cannot get yourself to throw away because it has sentimental value ” find Kintsugi appealing. 

We conclude that people are more likely to find kintsugi appealing if they are aware of it.

Q4. Why have you never done kintsugi  or never have requested kintsugi repair?

Most respondents indicated that they “did not know what the standard was to find the right craftsman to repair their vessel” (23%).  This was followed by those who “did not find kintsugi appealing” (20%) and those who “did not have anyone to teach them kintsugi” (18%).  Furthermore, some respondents “did not want to spend money to repair something that was damaged” (13%), “did not want to exert time and effort” (13%), and “did not have the confidence to do kintsugi” (12%).

More people are attending kintsugi classes and doing it by themselves, but these results show that some find it difficult to take their first step.  For such people, the hurdle for them will be diminished if they can find or establish an environment that they can ask for kintsugi repair easily.

Q5. There are two ways of doing kintsugi.  One is kintsugi using real lacquer “Urushi” which is the traditional, time-consuming, way of doing kintsugi with organic materials.  The other is simplified kintsugi which is the quick way of doing kintsugi with synthetic materials that may not be suited for tableware.  Which do you prefer?  Please share your reason with us.

The overwhelming majority of the respondents (79%) indicated that they prefer kintsugi using real lacquer “Urushi”.  The leading reason for this was attributed to the safety of organic materials.  Other reasons for this preference was the “attraction to the traditional and authentic way of doing kintsugi” or the “interest to treat precious items with care.”

Some respondents indicated that they want to do kintsugi using urushi after trying out the simplified kintsugi.

Summary of Survey Results

Our survey shows that awareness of kintsugi rose about 15% among Japanese women within a year and a half through the global pandemic.  From our survey, we see that more than half of Japanese women are aware of Kintsugi.  Furthermore, 43% of those in their 20s know what kintsugi is, and more than one in four Japanese women have a vessel that they have not been able to throw away for sentimental reasons.  We conclude that the eco-friendly SDG thinking is spreading among the younger generation.  

We also found that the respondents generally want to keep on using their vessels.  However, the lack of their understanding about kintsugi prevents them from taking their first step.

We also found that even with the easy alternative of simple kintsugi, people prefer kintsugi  using urushi – even if it takes longer to do – because it is safer.

Our Efforts Based on the Survey Results

Through the new survey, we found that there were more people than we thought that had a damaged vessel that they have not been able to throw away for sentimental reasons.  However, we also learned that there is a gap between the demand to repair such items and the availability of accessible kintsugi services.  Given this result, we have strengthened our resolve to spread the awareness of kintsugi.

Since establishment, kNotPerfect Co., Ltd. has been developing services specializing in traditional kintsugi using urushi and spreading the appeal of kintsugi. We want to answer the call of kintsugi enthusiasts.

We have been providing services that allow users to do kintsugi themselves through kintsugi classes and kits.  However, given the growing interest in SDGs as shown in the results, we want to focus more on recycling through our Kintsugi Upcycle Project and other affordable kintsugi services.

We launched the Kintsugi Upcylce Project in April 2021, but we only got a handful of broken vessels during the first couple months.  However – with the support of tenacious evangelists – we recently have been receiving more than 10 times what we received initially.  We will use the vessels that we receive to train craftsmen and sell the beautifully repaired vessels overseas.

We want to spread this wonderful Japanese tradition.  We will work hard to decrease the hurdle surrounding kintsugi so that it becomes more accessible.

You can learn more about kintsugi on our company website 🙂

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