A TIME FOR MENDING

Sometimes the repairs are simple.
Occasionally they are blue!

sometimes the mend is hand made paper, every bit precious in the Edo period. Here a washi zabuton, floor cushion, mended with cuts of old ledgers or letters or whatever was at hand.

Washi/paper is an almighty and unexpected binder of baskets and glass, shoji and andon, lanterns.
Light ia more beautiful when transfused through washi. Better still when repaired with daughter’s old practice calligraphy papers. And repaired by the very same daughter!
BORO. The ultimate mend. One that never ends, and with every overlay becomes warmer and more beautiful. A rare child’s Boro.

Hundreds of years ago, or so it seems, when I was 22 and celebrating our first Christmas in Geneva with new husband Yuichi, I opened the one present he gave me, wrapped and laid under the tree. When I saw what was inside, I burst out crying, remembering the tears I had shed when I broke my favorite Danish covered jam pot in thoughtlessly trying to swat away a marauding bee. When Yuichi came home from work, he found me crying over spilled jam and jam pot, hopelessly broken in many pieces. He comforted me and said it was just a thing. No need to be so upset, and he quietly swept up the pieces and put them away. I had forgotten about it, but he hadn’t. He had saved the bits and sweetly put them back together into a viable hole. That was my first Christmas present as the wife of Yuichi Katoh who went on to teach me many things about mending, repairing, Mottainai, and never giving up. Leather gloves the dog had bitten, sneakers Yuichi had ripped. Dishes he had glued back together. Even a daughter’s – the one who fixed the andon! – cut over her eyebrow. He held the two sides of the cut together for hours until they stuck together on their own. He, and his Mother before him, taught me the power of mending. The beauty of the repair. The lasting nature of things you care enough to repair. They will be with you forever and grow more beautiful with each mend.

Foxes! Throw them away, my daughter, the fixer, had advised. Too many pieces, small bits, many missing, and the clay is too soft to mend. Two of my favorite foxes had been knocked over into a hopeless looking mess, but I picked up the pieces, and swept up the bits and kept them for years in a shoebox in hopes . . . Recently while isolated in Karuizawa, we went to our favorite restaurant, Tsuju, and were served a delicious dish whose side had a distinctive line of Kintsugi, the traditional Japanese mending with laquer and gold. But this was Gintsugi, repaired with silver lacquer, and I was quick to ask who had done the repair. The waitress pointed across the street to their Gallery, Dark Eyes, and said they have a shokunin, artisan, who repairs dishes. When I met her later with two broken cups, she agreed to fix them, but then when she looked at the foxes, that I was sure she’d say no to, messengers of the gods who are in charge of rice, she looked at them in doubt and said Kitsune? foxes? with serious doubt for their future and her capabilities. But look at them now. Beautifully mended and dressed up in shimmering silver evening wear. Fit for the Gods!

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18 Responses to A TIME FOR MENDING

  1. Suzan Vigil says:

    I love this post AMY! I believe it also applies to our souls. And our broken hearts! Hope you are well and safe. Love to all your family 💜💜

  2. The post is so true and unfortunately in today’s throw away world people miss out on two pleasures – one the satisfaction of ‘making whole’ again and secondly having something that is a ‘one off’. This applies to the above comment as well mending a broken heart or soul. The power one has when they have/ or mended treasures
    Keep well

    • So very very true, Sandra!
      The power of the mend.
      Of not giving up.
      And yes of course. Broken hearts and souls may be more difficult to mend.
      But the result is lasting.
      Maybe breaking is important in life?
      Thank you for sharing this with me.

  3. Love this post Amy. Your teapot is the best! And so is your way with words.

  4. Oh so true! I have broken several pieces and mended them with . . .shsh! . .Araldite, they look just as lovely and worth half the amount, so I no longer have to worry, I enjoy them more. Maybe someone could teach me how to mend with gold lacquer?

    • Hi Grumpy – love your name!
      I don’t know Araldite, but maybe it is what my daughter uses that she found on Amazon.
      The only danger with some of these alternate repair methods is that they don’t tend to last. KIntsugi is an arduous process that takes repeated applications of lacquer and then gold, and gold is very pricey now. Do find a teacher if you can! Meanwhile keep mending.

  5. paulab253 says:

    LOVE! thank you for this. Be well.

    Paula in Seattle

    • Oh Paula How good to hear from you in Seattle. But don’t forget to come back. Japan and I have arms open for your return. xx Amy in Karuizawa where we finally have buds on the trees. Sakura still 10 days away!

  6. Susan Rosefielde says:

    Do you know of any repairers in eastern U.S.? thank you.

  7. razia says:

    thank you, i love all your posts, full of surprises and wisdom and skill, with much appreciation, love razia

  8. I love this idea from Europe — a repair cafe in Amsterdam where volunteers mend broken things for free because “they just like to fix things”. It’s a good feeling to mend and make something work again instead of throwing it into the trash. Thank you for telling us about the lid of Mr. Omine’s teapot and its journey back to life. If I recall correctly, the gold lacquer “kintsugi” mender at Morita Antiques fixed things according to the age of the customer (elders getting priority) so they can enjoy the mended thing asap. love from Berkeley. Nancy https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/world/europe/amsterdam-tries-to-change-culture-with-repair-cafes.html

    • Oh no! I have only just now seen this. Now when you are so much on my mind. I have recommended your simmering, troubling beautiful 50 Objects to an artist/ poet /Instagram friend and hope he tunes in. This repair cafe in Amsterdam is the MOST FANTASTIC IDEA! How can we start one here? The land of people who love to fix things! We all need that “journey back to life” right now! Sadly, Mr. Morita san’s fixer has gone to his own reward, so I have been casting about for others – leery about trying myself with my shaky hands! But my new shoku in in Karuizawa is good and cheap! though not quite such a purist with materials used. Gold is too expensive right now. More to come. Love you Celadon!

  9. sarita says:

    I just found you. Looking forward to reading back thru your archive whilst sitting in the sun which has finally arrived here in Oregon.

    Your teapot is stunning. A piece with heart and soul, mended character. A true treasure! ♡

    • The good thing about Corona is that it is giving us time to sit back and catch up. With the sun out, you’ve got a winning combination! Happy reading ! I hope you enjoy it!

  10. sarita says:

    Treasures…of the ♡. Perfect in their imperfections.

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