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Ikigai Spotlight Series: Tad Murao (37), Kintsugi Artist, based in Boston, MA, USA

Tad: Kintsugi plays a valuable role in...

Ikigai is a concept that is very much integral to Japanese culture. The word 'Ikigai' can be roughly translated to your 'reason for being', or purpose and is not confined to the ‘Venn Diagram’. More on its authentic definition can be explored here.

While Ikigai is essential to one's well-being, the true beauty is that it does not have a fixed equation and can change over time.

At Mogami, we would like to highlight this nuance with our 'Ikigai Spotlight Series'.

This month's featured guest is Tad Murao (37), Kintsugi Artist based in Boston, MA, USA.

Tell us your story.

I used to work as a writer and researcher in the fields of mental health and neuroscience for a small company in the United States. During a temporary return to Japan, I was captivated by the art of Kintsugi (the mending of broken pottery with gold) that I experienced in Kyoto. This encounter made me the life changing decision to make Kintsugi into my career. Through numerous trials and failures, I honed my skills and studied under renowned Kintsugi masters, and am now the only Kintsugi artist in Boston.

When was the first time you remember coming across the concept of Ikigai?

I think I learned this word and its meaning probably back in high school or college. That said, since I feel as though I haven't experienced enough success to truly sense my Ikigai, I don’t think I can say I understand it yet.

What has been your personal journey with your Ikigai(s) or reason for being?

I feel as though I am still in the middle of my journey as I haven’t felt Ikigai yet.

How does your life today reflect your authentic self and life priorities?

In traditional Kintsugi, there are several processes that once started, cannot be interrupted midway. As I work for extended periods, I undergo various shifts in both physical and mental states—moments of sudden drowsiness urging me to pause, or conversely, bursts of joy. When you work at an office or are in a corporate setting, such normal physiological reactions tend to go haywire. However, when I dedicate long hours to a piece or meticulously repair a client's piece, I experience these transitions firsthand, allowing myself to be completely authentic, for better or for worse.

Can you walk us through a time in your life when you felt lost? What ideas or tools helped you overcome this period?

If I am being honest, it is still a work in progress. Drawing from my previous work experience, I have a grasp on the significance of maintaining both physical and mental health, so I am vigilant about avoiding any pitfalls. With my sympathetic nervous system often taking charge during the day, I make a conscious effort to boost my sense of relaxation through meditation and mindful breathwork.

What would be your advice to anyone struggling to live a life of Ikigai?

In today's increasingly complex world, many find themselves grappling with the search for Ikigai. If you're among those struggling to find your path, taking a step back to focus on your physical and mental well-being could be beneficial. This shift can alter your perspective on your surroundings and perhaps illuminate what truly matters to you.

What does Kintsugi mean to you?

I believe Kintsugi plays a valuable role in seamlessly connecting the stories of the piece and its owner to what's next to come.


Saori's reflection

I found Tad's journey with Ikigai refreshingly honest and humble. What stood out to me was the importance of the journey itself and the importance of allowing ourselves the permission to not know everything. At the same time, Tad advised those struggling to find their Ikigai to take a step back and focus on their physical and mental well-being. This resonated strongly as it reminds us of the importance of holistic wellness as a critical foundation for our lives.


Do you want to learn more?

You can follow and support Tad-san and his Kintsugi journey below.



What did this story bring up for you? Comment below.


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