How Japan Looks Beyond The Face Value Of Things

The culture of Japan is famous for looking beyond the face value of things. In communication, they give a lot of value to non-verbal cues.

However, there are various parts of their culture that value material objects and their characteristics, but not for their monetary worth.

One such part of the Japanese culture is mottainai.

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Mottainai has various meanings. The essence of the word is a feeling of regret over the wastage of something valuable.

How Japan Looks Beyond The Face Value Of Things
Professional organizer Marie Konda thanking objects before discarding them is an example of Mottainai

Its origins are deeply rooted in Buddhist culture. According to Buddhism, it refers to respecting resources around you and using them with a sense of gratitude. This term is believed to be introduced to the Japanese by Buddhism. However, its widespread use is sometimes credited to Shintoism.

Shintoism believes that all objects, all beings contain God. Each tree, river, deer and mice carry a god inside. Others believe that Shintoism says that all objects and beings contain souls, often of our ancestors. Thus, these objects should be treated with dignity and not wasted.

The practice of mottainai can be seen in the practice of repurposing things.

It can also be seen in the form of thanking objects for their service while discarding them.

There are other practices in Japan that look beyond the face value of things, such as kintsugi.


How Japan Looks Beyond The Face Value Of Things

In simple terms, Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken things with precious metals.

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When a bowl or vase breaks, the cracks are joined by filling them with liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Usually, broken objects are either thrown away or repaired in a way that hides the cracks. Kintsugi seeks to enhance those cracks.

In doing so, kintsugi seeks to spread the message that accidents aren’t the end of the world. They do not mean that your journey is over, or that an accident somehow makes you less desirable. Instead, they make you even more beautiful.

Accidents can sometimes define you. But they don’t have to be moments that broke you, instead, let them be moments that made you.


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