IF you want to break into the Japanese culture

There are multiple ways to get to know a culture, but surely experiencing it is the best way to embrace, deep dive and sympathise with one.

Japanese culture has always been fascinating me. By reading and listening to third parties, I acknowledged that Japan is a something very distant from our west reality as tradition, nature and innovative manners are central.

I like to imagine it like a dreamy place, totally disconnected from the outside but tightly connecting past, present and future.

I was walking in Ravenna (in Italy) once, when I actually happened to stop by the most beautiful concept store ever. Hand-crafted bowls, traditional tea cups, multiple sized kimonos hanged on the wall and matcha preparation kits were the protagonist of the scene and my eyes could not get these shop windows passed unnoticed.

Photos’ Credits to Marco

The store is called MIYAJIMA and it is located in the city’s center. From the very entrance, the shop was telling me a story, that today Marco (the store’s owner) will have the pleasure to narrate us.

Asked him couple of curiosities whose replies totally blew my mind (and eventually yours!):

  1. Would you like to talk about Miyajima, how was it born and what’s the meaning behind this Japanese word?

Miyajima is actually a Japanese island located on the Hiroshima coast.

This island is the home town to a family of antique dealers who made me learn around the world of Japanese art. This was just the beginning and from here, it comes my passion for Kintsugi, that we practice in our Miyajima lab.

2. What is the Kintsugi?

Kintsugi (‘kin’ gold, ‘tsugi’ fix) in Japanese literally means “to fix with the gold” and represents the beauty of imperfections.

This practice stands for the idea of valorising defects and imperfections of something that broke in order to obtain an even more beautiful and precious work of art.

Photos’ Credits to Marco

The cracks fixed with the gold represent the history of ceramics, an unrepeatable narrative making every restored piece unique. In other words, Kintsugi is a unique form of art that has a strong sentimental value as it represents the strength and the difficulties behind every scar as well as the capability of keep going, getting newer, stronger and more precious than before.

3. When I stopped by the store, I read a breathtaking text written in collaboration with ALLEBASI, in which the gold unifying the cracks is alluded as “the benevolence of words warming our hearts after we have crashed to smithereens.”

Do you believe this is the real message that this old Japanese technique wants to communicate?

Absolutely yes! Kintsugi is a restoring practice as much as a metaphor of life, teaching us to never hide scars, but rather turning them into points of strength.

Indeed, this process is the concrete representation of resilience. In other terms, it is nothing but the ability to turn traumatic events into opportunities. It is that art “that teaches us to laugh at a tea cup breaking in a thousand of pieces as we know that it will become even more beautiful after that”, as ALLEBASI writes.

4. What emotions do you feel this practice is aimed at transmitting to its participants?

This practice witnesses that everything can be fixed, although accepting that you cannot go back to the origins. To the participants to the Kintsugi lab is required just one thing: time. The acceptance of the waiting is essential to fix ceramics as well as for healing wounds.

5. A more technical question, how much does it last the restoring ceramics process? How many steps are present?

The complete restoring process of Kintsugi is made up of four main phases: glueing, reconstruction, lacquering and gilding. The timing is linked to the technical timing of the urushi lacquers drying, which are used in every restoring phase (the process requires around three days per phase). Usually, for a complete restore, you need between two and three weeks.

Photos’ Credits to Marco

6. IF anyone was ever interested in partecipating to one of the laboratories of Kintsugi, how can he/she contact you?

In order to sign up for a course, you can feel free to contact MIYAJIMA Store on both its Facebook or Instagram page (@miyajimastore), or you can just pass by the store located in Via Antica Zecca 31 in Ravenna. Whoever passes by the store can also have the opportunity to try on one of our kimonos!

It is good to acknowledge that Kintsugi goes beyond being just being an artistic practice. It is again an encouragement to keep swimming, although obstacles may appear along the swim.

Until next post, Let’s Keep Swimming!

One thought on “IF you want to break into the Japanese culture”

  1. So damn inspiring❤️ Errors can make you stronger! Hard to understand but very truth

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