What lasts beyond the self

Can be joined by gold

This is the history

Of break and repair

And then of the gold

That can help shine the light

To repair the damage

Of the beautiful

Replacing is not necessary

Instead, filling in the gaps

In order to heal and fix

Can assist with the wholeness

That could otherwise not be achieved

Kintsugi is renewal and endings

And restoring the broken



This past week, I have had the wonderful opportunity to holiday and complete some formal writing on Norfolk Island.

It has been fascinating to travel around Norfolk to hear historical stories of brokenness and healing. The hospitality of Norfolk Islander people has been second-to-none. The care and attention paid to myself and my travel companions, I have been part of, has been nothing short of fantastic. I am in awe and gratitude for the experience.

It is here that I have had a chance to contemplate a great many things.

Norfolk Island, with its fair share of problems in its settlement in the early days, has had many, many setbacks and yet it continues to survive and thrive. Like we can too, from any or all of the setbacks we may have in our lives.

We arrived on the island to all of the Norfolk Island and Australian flags being at half-mast. We discovered on asking questions of the locals that there was an elder from the community that had recently passed away. Here the flags fly at half-mast from the time of death, to the end of the funeral for someone who is considered a well-known elder and community leader of Norfolk.

Being here on Norfolk reminds me again of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken bowls with either gold, silver or shiny metal.

Though Kintsugi is also a philosophy of acknowledging the history and repair of an object that can become more beautiful as a result of its changes and transformation.

We can indeed use this symbolic concept of broken bowls, to how we can mend our hearts, minds or acknowledge the beauty of our personal or collective history, like that at Norfolk. The people of Norfolk are indeed proud of their checkered past and acknowledge that is what makes them unique. Therefore, acknowledging the beauty of history, or understanding the history held by the elderly, or those people who may have been through so much, could improve our thoughts on grief, death, relationship breakdown and getting older.

Ivan Cenzi discusses the symbolism of Kintsugi related to humans, and how we deal with grief and death, as it’s important to consider how we all deal with grief, death and bereavement. This symbolic reference to Kintsugi can be extended out to life in general and how we deal with our human frailties and brokenness.

As a young person, I travelled to Japan a couple of times. I have had the privilege of discovering the Japanese culture, and their art, first hand, and found it an enlightening experience. There is something so very special about how specific cultures covet their elderly populations.

In Japan and even currently on Norfolk, there is a special place in their hearts and a revering of the elderly in the society. Families will look after the elder generation, or planning is made for the future on how the care needs to be resolved when the time comes for greater care than the family can manage.

In Australian society, we discuss the need to prepare for a greater number of elderly in care and that there is a crisis in the aged care sector for workers and conditions for those workers. This is quite sad for all of us.

Considering the reverence and specialness of history, repair and restoration, we perhaps could solve many human issues with acknowledging our broken parts in order to start repairing it with the gold required for repairing ourselves, like a Kintsugi bowl.

Counselling and psychotherapy works from this concept of repairing our broken aspects and that it is our history that allows us to be more beautiful.

Incorporating these concepts of kintsugi, along with respect for the elderly and our history, if these aspects were extended to our broader society, this could be the way forward towards peace and acceptance of our own foibles – and the acknowledgement of all of us – and the human condition.