National Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi — Traditional Kintsugi Shop TSUGU TSUGU

National Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi 2021

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National Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi 2021

Awareness of Kintsugi Has Risen to Over 50%

After conducting a first Awareness Survey regarding kintsugi in autumn 2019 in Tokyo, we decided to renew the experience in spring 2021. The results of this new survey shows that, in two year time, the awareness regarding kintsugi has risen to over 50% ! In this article, we will present the data gathered through the survey and share our findings.

About a year ago, we conducted a survey that suggested that very few people had already heard of kintsugi repair.

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

The results of the new May 2021 lead us to think that the awareness of kintsugi has changed among Japanese women during the COVID-19 pandemic and that there is also a growing recognition of the importance of SDGs.

美しく修理された金継ぎ器たち
(↑ Ceramic pieces we have restored with kintsugi.)

Why did we conduct the Kintsugi Awareness Survey in 2021?

We started this new survey because we were curious to see if the awareness of kintsugi had increased during the pandemic.

The spread of COVID-19 in 2020 forced a lot of people in the world to spend more time at home than before. It was also the case in Japan, where the declaration of a State of Emergency in April 2020 led a large number of companies to switch to remote work, something that was still very uncommon in Japan until then since a lot of business transactions traditionally had to be done in person.

As remote work spread and became the norm, people started spending a lot more time at home. This new lifestyle led people to reassess their living environment and how they spent their time in it. In this context, a lot of Japanese moved to larger homes, further from the city, and also started looking for new hobbies that could be done from home.

At the time, kintsugi became regularly advertised on TV as a nice activity to do from home. Moreover, since kintsugi is a traditional type of up-cycling, it was also introduced by various shows highlighting activities, goods or businesses that complied with SDGs. 

At Tsugu Tsugu, we received an increasing number of requests for kintsugi workshops in 2020, and our sales of kintsugi kits kept breaking records each month.

We had the strong feeling that the awareness of kintsugi repair had sharply increased during the pandemic compared to when we conducted our first survey, but we wanted to confirm our impressions with concrete facts and figures. We decided then to conduct a brand new survey to see if the reality matched our impression.

Kintsugi Survey Parameters

2019 Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi

Online Survey conducted on October 3rd, 2019;

111 women living in Tokyo took part in the survey. 

The age distribution of the participants looks like this:

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

2021 Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi

Online Survey conducted on May 26th, 2021;

233 women living in Japan took the survey. 

The age distribution of the participants looks like this:

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

The parameters of the new survey are a little bit different than the previous one since the number of participants is much higher and we did not limit ourselves to women living in Tokyo this time. Moreover, we asked more questions for the second survey.

Questions We Asked Regarding Kintsugi

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

To our surprise, over 1 in 3 respondents (37.8%) said that they had at least one damaged vessel that they have not been able to throw away.

The data indicate that many people who replied yes to the question were generally older  – more than half of those over 50 years old fall in this category.  

In comparison, only one in four respondents in their 20s and one in three respondents in their 30s indicated that they held onto damaged vessels. 

This could suggest that people in their twenties and people in their fifties do not relate the same way to the objects that they own. It is a possibility that, as people grow older, they attach more sentimental value to the objects they own.

Q2. Do you know what kintsugi is?

The answers we have received from respondents:

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

When we did a first survey in October 2019, only 41% of the respondents knew what kintsugi was. However, in the new survey, no less than 56% of the respondents knew what kintsugi is. Compared to before, the number of people who knew what kintsugi is outweighed the number of people who did not.

If we compare the data of the two surveys, we can see that the awareness of kintsugi rose by about 15%. 

Furthermore, the survey also gives insights into the level of awareness of kintsugi by age group: 43% for people in their 20s, 56% for people in their 30s, 66% for people in their 40s, and 65% for people in their 50s. We can notice here a stark increase in awareness among people in their twenties.

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

The majority of the respondents (45%) indicated that they found kintsugi appealing because they could "repair their precious vessels themselves and use them again." The second most common answer (28%) was that they really liked the fact that they could "use the imperfections of the vessels to embellish them and turn them into a piece of art."  Furthermore, 11% of the respondents indicated that they found kintsugi appealing because it enabled them to “experience Japanese tradition and culture.” About 10% of the respondents indicated that they did not want to do kintsugi and, lastly, 6% indicated that they did not find kintsugi appealing.

Of the respondents, 88% of those who indicated that they have a damaged vessel that they keep because it has sentimental value indicated that they found kintsugi appealing. It is also interesting to note that 82% of the respondents who indicated that they do not have a damaged vessel they keep because it has sentimental value find kintsugi repair appealing. 

We can thus conclude that people are generally more likely to find kintsugi appealing if they are aware of it in the first place.

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

Most respondents indicated that they "did not know how to find a skilled craftsman able to repair their vessel" (23%).  The second and third most common answers given was that they simply “did not find kintsugi appealing” (20%) and  "did not have anyone to teach them kintsugi" (18%).  Other respondents "did not want to spend money to repair something" (13%), "did not want to spend time and effort on this" (13%), or "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 method, traditional kintsugi, is based on the use of real urushi lacquer. It is a time-consuming technique but it exclusively uses natural materials. The other method is a simplified version of kintsugi and is known as "modern kintsugi." Thanks to the use of synthetic materials, this method is very quick.  However, it is not food safe. It should be reserved for ornemental projects.

Which do you prefer?  Please share the reason behind your choice with us.

The overwhelming majority of the respondents (79%) indicated that they preferred traditional kintsugi. The main reason for this is to be attributed to the safety of organic materials. Another reason given to us was "the unique appeal of the traditional and authentic way of doing kintsugi" or the "interest to treat precious items with care."

Some respondents indicated that they would be keen on trying traditional kintsugi after a first experience with modern kintsugi.

Summary of the Survey Results

Awareness of kintsugi amongst the respondents was 15% higher among the respondents of our latest survey compared to the survey done in 2019. This time, more than half of the respondents had already heard of kintsugi repair before taking part in the survey. Furthermore, 43% of the respondents in their 20s declared knowing what kintsugi was, and more than one in four respondents held onto damaged vessels they cannot bring themselves to throw away for sentimental reasons.

This data seems to confirm our impression that awareness of kintsugi repair, its gold lines, and its philosophy has increased over the last few years. We also sense that creating for oneself a lifestyle that respects the environment is increasingly important for the younger generations. We can expect that products and services complying with SDGs should thus be expected to gather even more attention in the coming years.

During our discussions with the respondents, it also became clear that some obstacles still prevent the access to kintsugi. We also notice that a lot of them really wished to have broken vessels repaired with kintsugi instead of throwing them away. However, they had no idea where to look for kintsugi repair services or kintsugi workshops. The lack of readily available information about kintsugi made it difficult for them to take their first step.

The survey also suggests that, when offered the easy alternative of modern kintsugi, most people prefer kintsugi using urushi – even if it takes longer to complete a repair – because it is food safe.

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 because of sentimental reasons. Based on the answers we received, there seems to be a real demand for kintsugi repair, but it remains very unclear for people where to find such services. This makes us at Tsugu Tsugu more determined than ever to communicate even more about our services  and kintsugi in general.

Since its establishment, Tsugu Tsugu Inc, previously known as "kNotPerfect Ltd.," has been developing services specializing in traditional kintsugi (method using urushi) and spreading the beauty of kintsugi. In the future, we want to share further the art of kintsugi with the world.

We currently provide products (kintsugi kits and supplies) and services (workshop and repair services) that allow users to embark on their own kintsugi journey.

We launched the Kintsugi Upcycle Project in April 2021. During the first few months, we only received a handful of broken vessels during the first couple months.  However, thanks to the support of tenacious evangelists, we recently have been receiving 10 times more every month. The vessels donated to us will be used to train kintsugi apprentices or to be sold overseas as kintsugi objects.

In the future, we also would like to put a stronger focus on recycling through this Kintsugi Upcycle Project and expand our offering regarding kintsugi services. We will keep working hard to keep spreading the wonderful Japanese tradition of kintsugi and make it more accessible to people.

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