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Book Review: Three Well-known English Kintsugi Books

As a Japanese kintsugi-girl, I read the three popular English kintsugi books and write reviews about them!

Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit

Author: Candice Kumai

Concept of this book: Kintsugi x wellness

This book combines the authors heartbroken stories and wellness tips by showing many Japanese recipes.

The interest thing is that she describes Kintsugi and Japanese culture from different aspect as she is a half Japanese/half American. Her explanation is easy to understand but not completely exact same concept to what I (real Japanese) have. 

Her personal experience which she had a sad history (broken-up with her boyfriend) and her journey to Japan touches to some extent, but the last half of the book shows Japanese cuisines which is not really Japanese style, probably non-Japanese taste. 

She visited Kyoto to meat kintsugi artisan, but his kintsugi is so-called “Modern-kintsugi” which uses epoxy and synthetic glue, not traditional one. (I don’t mean this is bad, but traditional kintsugi uses urushi lacquer and other natural ingredients).

From my perspective, it must be difficult to write a book only about kintsugi, so she ended up to go to the different direction at the last part, and tried to connect wellness to kintsugi as kintsugi is the main theme of this book. 

Personally, I was disappointed when reading the middle of this book, but it may be helpful for someone who really want to have fun by reading a light content book.

Kintsugi: Embrace your imperfections and find happiness – the Japanese way

Author: Tomás Navarro

Concept of this book: Kintsugi x psychology

This book starts with exotic Japanese anecdote which may be fiction… I was excited to continue reading the dialog between an artisan and a young potter.

After prologue, this Japanese short story was separated into many pieces over the whole book, and mainly, the author described psychological narratives to encourage you by connecting many psycological cases to kintsugi.

From this book, you cannot learn how to do kintsugi.

As the author is a professional psychologist, his telling must be true, but I felt that I am persuaded to be stronger by overcoming past emotional damage by changing my mindset. 

However, I think changing the way to see things is not easy.

This book is recommended to someone who’d like to seek professional psychology counselor who lesson your emotional burden.

Kintsugi: Finding Strength in Imperfection

Author: Céline Santini

Concept of this book: Kintsugi x Next Action

Her cites are indeed very touching and heart-moving. I was surprised the number of popular quotes she gathered which links to kintsugi.

Those quotes gives me some hints to reflect myself and how to change the way of thinking. 

Every chapter starts with a new quote and leads to practical actions which you can actually write on the page.

So I found this book is a kind of workbook.

By reading this book, you can learn how to do kintsugi with detail (and it was correct from my sense), however, it does not show the actual amount of ingredients so you cannnot do kintsugi only with this book. 

But, that’s fine. This book is created more to let you go forward by overcoming your sad history.

One thing I should notify that the origins of kintsugi she describes is maybe not right. She tells the following story:

In Muromachi period (around the 14th century) a Shogun found a crack in his valuable vessel from China, so he shipped to China for repair. China sent it back to Japan by stapling the cracks with metal clamps but it didn’t seem beautiful from the shogun’s perspective. So he asked his servant to re-repair it with more beautiful way. The servant decorated the cracks with urushi and genuine gold powder – this is the kintsugi.

Above story is told that it is actually a fake story which was made in Edo period as a Joke.

The real story is not really found as I researched by now…

Kintsugi is mysterious but this is why, kintsugi is interesting and loved by many people until now.

Summary of three kintsugi books

For non-Japanese people, Japanese kintsugi must be unique and often kintsugi is cited as a metaphor for our lives.

On contrary, in Japan, Kintsugi is appreciated more as a repairing technique than healing means.

In this sense, it is interesting to know how non-Japanese books describe Japanese culture and kintsugi.

Above is just my opinion, and the opinion/review will differ according to each reader.

And I’m happy that more people are interested in kintsugi and think kintsugi as a concept to make you stronger.

As I am a kintsugist (=I don’t call myself as an artisan, but contemporary true kintsugi lover as well as kintsugi speciallist), I’d like to learn continuously how people outside Japan see traditional kintsugi.

It must be helpful for us to spread the charms of kintsugi from outside Japan to inside Japan 🙂

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