National Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi 2022

National Awareness Survey Regarding Kintsugi 2022

Awareness of Kintsugi Has Risen to 74%! 

Almost every year, we try to conduct a survey to measure the degree of awareness of kintsugi within the Japanese population. We are pleased to share with you the results of our 2022 Survey. The sample of respondents used this year is the largest we have ever had. Changes in awareness of kintsugi have been analyzed and quantitatively clarified by gender and age groups. The change in awareness is particularly noticeable among younger respondents, with about half of those in their 20s having learned about kintsugi during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Why We Conduct Kintsugi Awareness Surveys

Our company, Tsugu Tsugu Inc., which is specialized in kintsugi, was created in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to break out. While it was considered a very difficult situation to start a company, our kintsugi-related products and services could quickly attract the attention of customers who were looking for activities and new hobbies to do at home. In this context, we could grow our business very quickly.

The art of kintsugi was still pretty much unknown to the general public when Tsugu Tsugu was founded. However, we feel that the degree of awareness has risen quite sharply over the last few years thanks to kintsugi being featured in various media and exhibitions in Japan and abroad. Kintsugi is an art that has the capacity of capturing people's hearts but we believe that the main reason we were able to expand our business so quickly in such a niche field has a lot to do with the context in which we started our company and the overall growing awareness of kintsugi.

Tsugu Tsugu has been featured in many media. There has been several TV coverages about our activities. There are various reasons for that, but one major explanation is that our activities are in line with the SDGs, which are heavily highlighted in Japan at the moment. Moreover, thanks to the creation of kintsugi kits such as the TSUGUKIT, kintsugi has become an activity that can be easily done at home. It is also a traditional craft that is unique to Japanese culture.

In the first surveys, we were only able to gather data from the customers visiting Tsugu Tsugu, but we wondered what the awareness of kintsugi was actually like in Japan overall. We wanted to check whether there was really a kintsugi boom in Japan, and that is what led us to conduct a Kintsugi Awareness Survey.

Since the majority of our customers are women, in the past, only women had been surveyed. But this time, we have increased by 50% the number of respondents and we also included men so that we can analyze trends by gender and by age group.

We have decided to share the statistical data that we have gathered not only to help us improve our services in the future, but also to support those who are interested in kintsugi, those involved in the field of traditional crafts, and those looking to revitalize and protect Japanese traditional craft.

2. What Changed This Year

We have continuously striven to increase our sample of respondents for our National Kintsugi Awareness Survey and this year is no exception.

Tokyo Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2019 (1st survey)
- Online survey of 111 women living in Tokyo conducted on October 3, 2019.
- Age distribution of the respondents: Teens 1%, 20s 18%, 30s 38%, 40s 28%, 50s 12%, 60s 3%, 70s 1%.
This first survey was conducted before the creation of Tsugu Tsugu.

National Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2021 (2nd survey)
- Online survey of 233 women across Japan conducted on May 26, 2021.
- Age distribution of the respondents: 1% teens, 26% in their 20s, 38% in their 30s, 25% in their 40s, 10% in their 50s, and 1% in their 60s or older.
This survey was conducted in the midst of the kintsugi boom. We decided to increase the number of respondents in order to improve the accuracy of our analysis.

National Kintsugi Awareness Survey 2022 (3rd survey, latest survey)
- Online survey of 216 women and 151 men (367 respondents in total) from all over Japan. The survey was conducted between October 5 and October 13, 2022.
- Age distribution of the respondents:
(Female) 15% in their 20s, 32% in their 30s, 19% in their 40s, 19% in their 50s, and 16% in their 60s or older.
(Males) 14% in their 20s, 16% in their 30s, 28% in their 40s, 17% in their 50s, 25% in their 60s and older.
In order to include men in the survey and examine trends by age group, a certain number of people were recruited for each age group.

3. The Result of the 2022 Kintsugi Awareness Survey

Q1: Do you know what kintsugi is ?

2.5 % - Yes, I know what kintsugi is. I have already done kintsugi (or had an object repaired with kintsugi)

39.8% - Yes, I know what kintsugi is. I have never done kintsugi (or had anything repaired with kintsugi), but would like to try it.

31.3% - Yes, I know what kintsugi is. I have never done kintsugi (or had anything repaired with kintsugi) and I do not want to try kintsugi.

26.4% - No, I have never heard of kintsugi.

No less than 74% of people who responded to the 2022 Kintsugi Awareness Survey overall said that they were aware of the existence of kintsugi. If we compare this data with the data of previous years, we can see that the level of awareness of kintsugi seems to keep increasing year after year. However, it is worth noting that, unlike our previous surveys, the 2022 survey includes male respondents. Had we included mean respondents in our past surveys, we would have most likely had different results and the level of kintsugi awareness would have certainly been much lower.

Since we added male respondents this year, we have been able to conduct an analysis by gender for the first time ever. We were wondering if interest in kintsugi could transcend gender.

When we look at differences in answers between female and male respondents, we can see that there were approximately 10% more women than men that responded that they were aware of kintsugi. Given that the overwhelming majority of students who participate in Tsugu Tsugu's kintsugi classes are women (over 90%), our hypothesis was that the level of awareness among men would be extremely low, but it turned out that 68.2 % of the male respondents were aware of what kintsugi was, which is a much higher percentage than we thought.

Based on the data we have collected at Tsugu Tsugu, as a company that offers not only kintsugi classes but also various kintsugi-related services, the percentage of men knowing kintsugi increases slightly among those who purchase kintsugi kits and those who visit our shop for kintsugi repair requests (even though it is a far much lower percentage than for women).

One thing that should be noted is that our sample of respondents included this time a lot more young people. And, as we will see later, it appears that the percentage of younger respondents who know about kintsugi is lower. Since the survey did not include respondents in their teens or younger, and the awareness rate among teens and younger is probably even lower, it is our assumption that the overall percentage for kintsugi awareness would be lower overall if those age groups were included.

If we compare the data we collected this year regarding the level of awareness of kintsugi among women with data of previous years, it appears that the awareness rate has increased by 36.3% since the first survey in October 2019, which was held before the coronary outbreak, and by 21.3% since the second survey conducted in May 2021. This is quite a significant increase.

In addition to awareness, this year, 42.3% of respondents overall said to be interested in trying kintsugi. The number of respondents expressing interest in kintsugi has increased by approximately 10% since our 2021 survey. This data suggests that kintsugi is more and more popular among the Japanese population.

If we look at the responses by age groups, we can see that the awareness rate of kintsugi is the lowest among young people in their twenties, while it is the highest among people who are 60 years-old or older. This could give the impression that kintsugi is not very popular among young people but, on the contrary, if we have a closer look at the percentage of those who have done kintsugi or would like to try, it appears that younger respondents show the highest rate of interest in kintsugi, and it slowly decreases with age (49% of those in their 20s and 35% of those in their 60s and older).

This suggests that expanding awareness of kintsugi among younger generations may lead to more people becoming or staying interested in kintsugi.

Q1.1 If you have answered "I know Kintsugi," when have you first learned about it?

- This year (2022)...10%.
- Last year (2021) ...10%.
- During the year the coronavirus pandemic spread (March 2020 - December 2020)...12%.
- After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, and before the start of the coronavirus pandemic (March 2011-Feb 2020)... 26%.
- Before the Great East Japan Earthquake (before March 2011)... 42%

About one in three respondents said that they had learned about kintsugi after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which indicates that awareness of kintsugi has expanded a lot quite recently.

You may wonder why we have mentioned the Great East Japan Earthquake in our survey. One reason is that we often hear from people in the lacquer craft industry that kintsugi has been slowly regaining popularity since 10 years ago, when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. In a country like Japan, where earthquakes are extremely frequent, it is very common to have pieces of tableware destroyed due to major earthquakes. It appears that, after strong earthquakes, a lot of people tend to "try kintsugi" afterwards to repair cups and plates that got broken during the earthquake.

Let's analyze the results by gender and by age group.

Looking at differences by gender, female respondents were 6.1% more than men to have learned about kintsugi after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, while male respondents were 8% more than women to have known about kintsugi before the Tohoku earthquake.

By age group, 48% of those in their 20s said that they had learned about kintsugi before the coronavirus pandemic, and more than half of those in their 60s and older said that they had heard of kintsugi before the Tohoku earthquake. The latter is not surprising since older respondents have been alive longer, and thus have had more opportunities and possibilities to have been exposed to kintsugi.

Q2. Kintsugi, which is a technique to repair broken ceramics with lacquer and gold, usually costs more than the price of the original vessel. If a vessel that you cherish very much were to break, would you want to restore it by kintsugi?

- I have damaged pieces of tableware and I wish to have it repaired with kintsugi. ...5%.
- I have damaged pieces of tableware but I'm not sure that I want to have it repaired with kintsugi....5%
- I have a damaged pieces of tableware but I'm not planning to have it repaired with kintsugi. ...4%
- I don't have any  damaged pieces of tableware but if an object I hold dear ever gets broken, I will consider having it repaired with kintsugi. ...59%.
- I don't have any  damaged pieces of tableware but, even if an object I hold dear ever gets broken, I do not think I will have it repaired with kintsugi. ...27%.

Overall, 64% of the respondents said that they may have an object repaired with kintsugi in the future. Some of the respondents did not know about kintsugi at all, and, even for those who already knew about kintsugi, they were generally not aware of the cost of a kintsugi repair so we were straightforward and told them that the price was usually higher than the price of the object to be repaired. The percentage of respondents who already had damaged objects was 14%.

The proportion of female respondents who express an interest in trying kintsugi in the future is 12% higher than men, and the proportion of women who have broken vessels is also 4% higher. We have noticed that, among Tsugu Tsugu's customers (90% are women), there are a lot of people who collect ceramic pieces. We are also under the impression that, in Japan, women are usually more interested in pieces of tableware than men because they are usually the ones who cook the most at home.

Q3 (Free Answer) How and when did you learn about kintsugi?

About half of the respondents who knew about kintsugi answered that they had first learned about kintsugi through television. Another large portion of respondents answered that they had first heard about kintsugi through media outlets other than TV, such as magazines, SNS (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube), and manga. It is interesting to highlight the fact that a lot of women first heard about kintsugi thanks to how prevalent kintsugi has become: they hear about friends who practice kintsugi, they see stores displaying kintsugi vessels and can see pieces restored with kintsugi in a wide array of places. In addition, several respondents said that they had become aware of kintsugi when they were served pieces of tableware repaired with kintsugi, it could be at their grandparents' house, their friends' house or at restaurants.

A characteristic shared by many male respondents was that they had learned about kintsugi through family members who had kintsugi bowls. A lot of male respondents also said to have discovered kintsugi through depictions in manga or books. Manga titles such as "Oishinbo" and "Hyouge Mono" were for example mentioned.

When asked if anything kept them from doing kintsugi or requesting kintsugi repair services, quite a few respondents, regardless of their gender, stated that kintsugi was too expensive for them to afford or that they didn't have vessels valuable enough to justify a kintsugi repair. A lot of respondents told us they just buy new pieces of tableware when they break something, and some of them explained that they actually do not like the fact that cracks are not hidden but highlighted with kintsugi.

In the first survey in 2019, which we conducted before the coronavirus pandemic, many respondents expressed concerns regarding kintsugi, saying that they were worried about whether they  would actually still like the appearance of objects they love after a kintsugi repair. Moreover, numerous respondents were unsure if they could trust the craftsman to whom they entrusted their precious vessels.

In contrast, in this year's survey, the number of respondents expressing such concerns seems to have decreased, which leads us to think that, in addition to an increase in awareness of kintsugi, there is a general trend toward a better acceptance of kintsugi within the Japanese general population. At Tsugu Tsugu, we believe this new behavior toward kintsugi has a lot to do with the broad media coverage of kintsugi. Moreover, the increase in the number of people actually doing kintsugi and the increased opportunities to engage with kintsugi, be it through workshops or exhibitions, have made kintsugi more accessible and eased the concerns most people may have had about kintsugi.

4) Tsugu Tsugu's Strategy for the Future

Based on the results of this survey, at Tsugu Tsugu, we would like to  focus on the following points in the future:

(1) Increasing opportunities for the general public to engage with kintsugi in person: In addition to our two kintsugi studios in Ebisu and Asakusa in Tokyo, we plan to exhibit kintsugi pieces at various events all around Japan and build new partnerships with other companies so that people can see and touch genuine kintsugi pieces no matter where they are in Japan.

(2) Sharing the beauty and philosophy of kintsugi through various media so that more people know about kintsugi. We intend to create even more content on YouTube, Instagram, and write more articles in English so that we can share kintsugi with the world.

(3) Teaching a wide range of kintsugi techniques and offering repair services that suit each individual vessel: kintsugi can actually be done not only with gold, but also with silver or colored lacquer. Recently, we have seen an increase in the number of customers requesting repairs in various colors, so we started offering repair services with "tomo tsugi," a traditional method of repairing that aims to match as much as possible the original color of the damaged object.

In the future, we will continue to develop new services to respond to the needs and values of a wide range of people, regardless of their age or gender, and we will keep doing our best to share even more the beauty of kintsugi with the world.

We hope you will support us in our future endeavors.

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