Kintsugi is one of those things that you can only truly experience in Japan. If you’re interested in this form of art, then a visit to a kintsugi workshop is a must-do. And I’ve listed the best classes you can attend while in Japan!

If you’re interested in Japanese traditional art forms, you might want to check my article about cultural and traditional things to do in Japan, where I list all the best activities to do during while visiting.

What is Kintsugi: Philosophy and History

Kintsugi, also known as “golden joinery,” is a unique Japanese art form that transforms broken pottery into a new, beautiful work of art by repairing it with lacquer mixed or dusted with powdered precious metals like gold, silver, or platinum.

Stemming from the Japanese philosophy that values the history and use of an object, kintsugi not only restores functionality but also enhances the object’s aesthetic and sentimental value.

The practice illuminates the repairs, embodying the concept of “mushin,” (無心) or “no mind,” which is about existing fully within the moment and embracing change and imperfection as intrinsic aspects of life.

The technique is said to have originated in the late 15th century when Ashikaga Yoshimasa, a Japanese shogun, sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China for repair and was dissatisfied with the metal staples used in its mending. This event likely inspired Japanese artisans to create a more aesthetically pleasing method of repair, leading to the birth of kintsugi.

The art form has strong ties with the Japanese tea ceremony and resonates with the philosophical concepts of wabi-sabi, which values imperfection, and “mono no aware,” a sensitivity to the transience of things.

But enough talking. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty—quite literally. The best way to do that? A kintsugi workshop in Tokyo or Kyoto. Just like workshops to make your own chopsticks in Japan, you’ll be able to meet master craftsmen and dive deep into this art. Here’s why.

Importance of Hands-On Experience in Understanding Kintsugi

When you join a Kintsugi workshop, you’re diving deeper than just surface-level understanding. The experience is sensory as much as it’s intellectual. By actually working with the materials—feeling every imperfection in the ceramic, every nuance of the adhesive, and the transformative power of the gold that fills in the cracks—you engage in a richer way with this traditional art. This is how you can really grasp the philosophy behind Kintsugi.

Small plate amended using the Japanese kintsugi repair technique
Photo by Riho Kitagawa

In a class setting, you also benefit from hands-on guidance. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and here you can correct them in real time with the help of an experienced instructor. And being around others who share your interest creates a great community vibe that you can’t get from books or videos alone.

So, how do you choose the right kintsugi class? Let’s see the key factors you should consider.

What to Look for in a Kintsugi Workshop

Expertise of the Instructor

A well-qualified and experienced instructor can make a world of difference. They should have a solid background in both the practice and philosophy of kintsugi. Their teaching style should be approachable, and they should be willing to provide individualized guidance throughout the workshop.

Quality of Materials Used

From the ceramic pieces to the adhesive and the gold powder, quality matters. The materials used should be authentic and of high quality to ensure that you’re getting a genuine kintsugi experience.

Scisors and paint used for kintsugi, on a wooden table in a workshop
Photo by Motoki Tonn

Reviews and Ratings

Before booking a kintsugi class in Tokyo or Kyoto, it’s essential to check reviews and ratings online. This will give you an idea of what previous participants think of the workshop, from the quality of teaching to the atmosphere and materials provided.

Accessibility and Location

The workshop should be easy to find and accessible by public transportation. Its location also adds to the overall experience; for instance, a workshop in a traditional Japanese setting might provide a more authentic atmosphere.

If this kind of deep, hands-on experience appeals to you, why not also explore the world of Japanese knife making in a similar workshop setting? It’s another craft that offers a profound insight into Japanese culture.

Kintsugi Tokyo: Top Workshops

Workshop NameLocationPriceNoteworthy DetailsReservation Link
Utsuwa Omusubi HANAREMinami-Aoyama, Tokyo¥28,000/person
($195/person)
Private group (only your group)
– An interpreter will accompany you
– Master instructor certified by the Japan Kintsugi Association
– Snacks included
– Duration: 2h30 minutes
– Minimum age: 12yo
– Bring your item home after the lesson
Wabunka
TNCA Minami-Aoyama StudioOmotesando, Tokyo¥9,000/person
($60/person)
Wear traditional work clothes
– You can bring your own item for the class
Mixed class with 10 participants
– Duration: 1h
– Minimum age: 15yo
– Bring your item home after the lesson
Viator

Kintsugi Kyoto: Top Workshop

Workshop NameLocationPriceUnique FeaturesReservation Link
Shitaka UrushiShimogyo Ward, Kyoto¥26,000/person
($180/person)
Private group (only your group)
– An interpreter will accompany you
– Teacher will help you make something you’re proud of
– Sign your item
161 years old establishment
– Duration: 2h30 minutes
– Bring your item home after the lesson
Wabunka

Taking part in a kintsugi Tokyo or Kyoto workshop can give you a new perspective on this age-old art. You’ll get hands-on practice and real advice from experts, making the philosophy behind kintsugi more relatable. So if you’re curious, give a workshop a try. It’s a great way to dive deeper into a unique tradition and maybe even learn something about yourself.

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