Pride, honor and glory, the three most important things to a man. Gold, a materialistic representation of these three. Kazuo Tatsuya, a warrior of his time, a samurai of the Emperor, a dignified man, well-known for his swordsmanship and his victorious battles against the enemies of the Emperor. A man filled with pride and honor for the battlefield. A man with enormous amounts of gold. A man, a samurai, a husband and a father.
"Honey, the vase fell, it's broken." His wife Aiko said to Kazuo one morning, showing the shattered pot.
"Nothing is ever broken, my love, come help me collect the shattered pieces, and try not to hurt yourself." Kazuo replied with a smile.
It was an autumn morning, the leaves falling down from the branches of the trees, preparing themselves for the coming winter. The vase was important to his beloved as it sheltered one of her favorite flowers. There would be days when she would just look and stare the magnificent beauty of the ajisai flower, its blue shimmering color. There are times when he would join her, hug her from behind and sit and watch the beauty of the life and love all collected under the beauty of that flower.
Now the shelter of their love was shattered. The vase fell by natural calamity, such as everything else in life, broken, shattered by nature, by calamity, by an unstoppable force. She understood this, she thinks that it can be replaced, but he thinks that everything can be fixed.
"But if you let it be fixed, it will no longer look as it was now, it would looked damaged or cracked. Just buy a new one my love." Aiko said to him.
It bothered him that his wife did not have faith that he could return the broken object back to normal. Then he started:
"Damaged and broken taught me one thing, my love. That is, damage, wounds, suffering, they all show the best of us and who we are, damage shows history, it shows growth, it shows that we learn, it shows that we keep the best of us inside us. The same as this vase, it is broken, yes, but it can be mended, it can be fixed once again, and the same as everything else that was broken, it becomes whole, but this time, with experience, it grows to be ever more beautiful."
She was in silence, her husband after all was one with wisdom and knowledge, he was a scholar and one of the smartest in his family. After collecting the pieces together, she gave him a basket in which he placed the shattered pieces of the vase there. Aiko grabbed their daughter who just woke up."Say goodbye to daddy, child." She said to their child. Kissing both of them, and saying their goodbyes, he went off to the village, to inspect the sentries and finding someone to fix the broken vase. "Daddy loves you." He said to his daughter before leaving off.
In first sight, the sentries noticed him walking in the pathway, right there, they saluted him, and Kazuo approached them.
"Take some time-off, men, don't work too hard." Kazuo said to them with a smile.
"Say that to the Emperor, my lord, there is no time for rest for our enemies are approaching our borders." One of them replied to their commander.
"I haven't heard of this news, where did you hear this from? Or is it some rumors?" Asked Kazuo with wonder.
"This news came from the scouts sent of the Lord Commander, ordered by the Emperor himself, my Lord. It is very reliable, and the attacks on the other villages show proof." One of the sentries replied.
"Well then, this is very disturbing news, carry on with your jobs then." He said, with a hint of worry.
"Yes Sir!" They all replied with a standard salute.
The men they have are not quite experienced in battle, but Kazuo train them whenever he had the time. He worries that about the news, especially now that he is having a family of his own. But the worry had fade away, he had trust in his men, the men whom trained and experienced battle with. Men who bled along side him and their comrades. Men who protected his pride as well as theirs.
He traveled onward to the depths of the village, into the village center. There he found people, hurrying to buy food and different needed materials for travel. He understood them, that when the invaders arrive, they must evacuate, for the invaders come with numbers, they always do. There will always be blood spilled upon the lands, and that is undeniable. But he continued on, taking his worries away, for he has to find someone to fix the vase.
An old man approached him, noticing the basket he was carrying, and asked him:"Young man, are you looking for someone to fix that?" He was startled at first, didn't notice the old man early on. Then he responded "Why yes, good sir, I am looking for someone to fix it, but not an ordinary fix, but something that will show more of its beauty." The old man gave of a smile and said to Kazuo,"There are few who find beauty in broken materials, broken things, you and I for example, come, I'll fix it, I'll make it look ten times more beautiful than ever."
He followed the old man into his home. He noticed that it was decorated beautifully, the man could have been rich before, he wondered.
"Decorated by my lovely wife, she made everything look much more beautiful than they actually look, we are both artistic beings." The old man said.
There were different wallpapers, handmade, and different frames, also handmade. He knows this because such art was followed by most during the time, but only few mastered it.
"All of the materials she used were recycled, none were bought. Some were born with such talent, and there are two types of artists, those who love and those who work. She loved her art, that's why she worked with grace and pride, material and payments mean nothing to her. Others work for art, they forget beauty in them as beauty becomes replaced by material beings and payments. She loved art." The old man added.
He noticed the style, were the same as those of the higher ranking officers houses, then he realized that the old man's wife decorated them. "I've seen this work before, beautiful and astounding. Where is she now?" Kazuo asked.
"People who make beauty and love art, fade easily, because they live their lives giving their art away to others, that they themselves become empty. She had died, beautiful as always as I may add." The old man answered with a short smile in his face.
"You want it to look beautiful as ever? There is a price." The old man told Kazuo.
"Whatever it may be I am willing to pay." Kazuo answered.
"Not payment, but requirement. My art requires wealth, a manifestation of it."
"Yes, do you have gold right of this moment, young man?" The old man asked.
"Well, I have gold as for payment, not as a requirement for the job itself." Kazuo responded.
"Gold for payment? You must be a very rich man!" The old man said then started to burst into laughter.
After the old man's astounding laughter, which may have been a long time ever since he last laugh, he told Kazuo that he required the gold, not as payment, but for fixing the material itself.
"It's called Kintsugi. The art of fixing things through gold. It shows that even though certain things break, they don't lose their beauty neither their purpose, it shows that there is still beauty after the break, after the experience, and that beauty is increased in magnitude. The beauty in this art is represented by the fix and by the gold." The old man explained.
Kazuo never heard of such art. It was his first time to hear of it. Surprisingly the man didn't ask for pay, only for the required materials. Kazuo insisted, but the old man refused. He said that it is his last time to do the art and for the respect of his love for it.
It took time, they both chatted about different things that they had encountered and things that they know. They chatted about life, beauty, existence, love and the sorts. He stayed there until the afternoon.
The sky was getting gloomy and dark, there was rain approaching the land. The old man finished his art and showed to Kazuo the fixed vase.The Vase looked beautiful as ever, the cracks were replaced by gold, it shined, it glowed and it showed more than what it was worth. They were both quiet. Then Kazuo thanked the man, the man thanked him back. He didn't ask for any payment, whatsoever, the old man was happy enough of his job, then he went back inside his home with a smile in his face.
As soon as Kazuo went out of the house, there was chaos. People were running everywhere, there was a stampede. Then his worst fears came into his thoughts, they were being invaded. With that assurance he started to run, bringing the vase, with his sword at hand. He saw men fighting off, the invaders, some stabbed and hacked to death. But that didn't stop him to his family. He ran and ran, adrenaline pumping in his veins, his family in his mind.
Then three of the invaders came after him. Knowing that he was the commander of the group, the samurai. They cornered him.
He knew that he must fight, he knew that there must be blood shed, for his family, for his people, for his pride and glory. He put down the vase and entered the stance, prepared to fight.
The rain started to pour, echoes of the battle heard along side the drizzling of the rain. Then silence. Kazuo reached his home, with the vase in tact, and with his bloodied sword. The silence deafened his ears. He was scared of what he might see. He walked toward the entrance of the house and there was blood. There were three bodies that he recognized, they were the sentries he saw that morning, and the other bodies, were of the invaders. He entered the house, more blood. He opened the door, there he saw another body. It was Aiko, laying there lifeless. There was blood in her kimono. He hugged the lifeless body of his wife and started to cry.
Then a voice. "Kazuo?...... My love?....." Aiko asked with her faint voice.
"It's me, Aiko. It's me. Kazuo, your beloved husband." Kazuo replied, sobbing, tears in his face.
"Our daughter...... she is.... safe." Aiko told his husband in a weak voice.
"Hush, my love, save your strength." Kazuo said crying more.
"Is that........ the vase?........ It looks beautiful as ever......." Aiko told her husband with a smile.
Kazuo kept sobbing, then he heard voices outside. Shouting, if there was someone inside. He knew the voice, it was his comrades from the village.
"HELP! My Wife!!!!!" Kazuo shouted to the soldiers.
"My love......... I'm scared........ I'm...... broken........" Aiko told Kazuo, her voice fading away.
"Everything can be fixed, my love, everything. I'll fix you, I swear. I love you so much." Kazuo said to his wife, with tears coming down his face.
He was the weakest at this moment. The soldiers arrived, aided Kazuo and his family. Kazuo saw his daughter with his comrades. She was crying. He hugged her ever so tightly. His daughter held the vase into her heart.
Days passed. A woman's eyes opened to the beauty of a blue flower in a vase, a vase fixed by an art. She heard laughter of a little girl and of a man. She looked at the flower, but she became interested with the vase, it showed her something that she could relate to. She knew that both her and the vase were fixed. That they were safe.
The man carried the little girl and entered the house. The woman heard a voice from her beloved. "That is the art of kintsugi, the art of fixing things with gold, showing that even the most broken of all things can be fixed, not only by gold, but with will and power, with determination and faith, with love and care. After the fix, the broken thing, will show more beauty than before, because it has experienced and it has endured. It has learned and it has fought, it has lived once again. That is the art of Kintsugi."