Nozomi Project Blog

The Potential of Beauty in Brokenness

This week our Nozomi team received the most precious of gifts - an amazing watercolor painting done by an amazing artist!  Carrie Waller (carriewallerfineart.com) lives with her family in Japan, and through a special friendship with us we have had numerous times to connect.  Carrie generously offered to paint a picture for Nozomi Project that represents who we are.  We absolutely love how this painting represents all of the potential of beauty in brokenness! 

Carrie brought her two boys and another Nozomi friend from Tokyo, and it was interesting to see our surroundings through the eyes of friends who have never been here before They were sobered by the many places that still show the foundations of homes that were washed away in the 2011 tsunami, such as this fishing village surrounding one of our favorite cafes by the ocean (HamaguriHama).

It was while exploring here that her son started digging around, and not surprising, found handfuls of broken pottery.  (People ask if we are still finding pottery -- the answer is yes!)

 As friends of Nozomi reach out to us;  as customers share their stories or receiving hope; as our staff continue to find healing and community at the Nozomi Project, we see so much potential in beauty from brokenness!

An Experiment in Holding Hope

I recently went on a short seven-day trip to the U.S. I decided to buy four of the newest Nozomi 'holding hope" necklaces, and look for people who might need them.  The price ($25) and packaging makes them easy to buy, and easy to give.

It wasn't too hard to find people who needed to be reminded of hope!  A friend dealing with a very sick husband; another friend who shared about her own hope deferred; my flight attendant on the way home who went out of her way to help me. I have the last one in my bag right now, waiting for the next person I meet who needs hope.

Who do you know who needs hope? Multiply your investment! In addition to helping sustain our Nozomi team, we are donating $2 from each necklace to stopping human trafficking in Japan.  

Let's work together to give hope - it's contagious!  Find our Nozomi necklaces here


What can happen when women work together

As we approach celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Nozomi Project this month, we want to highlight the skill and artistry that our Nozomi team has developed. We couldn't be more proud of how this team of women have worked hard to create some of the finest pieces of pottery jewelry in the world. 

The heart of our Nozomi workshop is the grinding room.  This is where the pottery is cut, ground rough, then finely ground to perfection. Our team of seven are creative and seek to make the most beautiful items possible. 

Our Sara hook earrings have remained our best-selling collection. We've made over 7000 earrings! And they just get better and better. This morning we had a new set of earrings ready to go online, and look at these beauties! It's the first time in my memory that we have seen heart-shaped earrings (not in a frame). The skill! the beauty! This month we celebrate the craftsmanship that can happen when women work together. (Get them while they are still here!) 




This morning all of us in Ishinomaki and in the greater Tohoku region were woken at 6:02 am by blaring sirens --the same ones used for serious tsunami warnings here-- and automated cell phone message alarms with the announcement that North Korea had fired a missile and it was headed our way. We were told to take necessary precautions -- to flee to a concrete building or underground location (did you know that we don't have any underground space in all of our city?).

After about 15 minutes, the news announced that the missile had broken into pieces in the Pacific Ocean on the eastern side of Hokkaido. Trains and buses in northern Japan had all  been temporarily suspended; our local school sent out a notice that school would begin one hour later than normal.  And then life went, seemingly, back to normal. We could all breathe easier, but the reality of the warning was not forgotten by anyone here today.

Nepal and Houston flooding, Charlottesville, Myanmar unrest, North Korea threats. We cannot go very far nor very long without being reminded of the reality our Nozomi team experienced in March 2011 - life is really fragile

So today, we celebrate beauty as it shows up in the brokenness and uncertainty of each day.

We linger a little longer in the fields with our kids before the sun goes down.

We talk to our grown-up sisters and make sure they know how important they are.

We stand outside as the rain begins, just because we can.  



We look across the table and listen to each other a little better than we did yesterday.

We say I love you to everyone we possibly can before we turn out the lights. 

And we thank God for hope, which does not disappoint.  





Shards, Brokenness & Hope Six Years Later

We are coming up on six years of the triple disaster that washed away half of Ishinomaki.

We are frequently asked if we still have broken pottery left to use for making our Nozomi jewelry.  And the answer is yes!  We still have crates of pottery gathered by hundreds of volunteers during the first few years; we are also receiving boxes of broken or unwanted pottery from nearby neighbors, friends, and second-hand shops in the area. 

Recently, one of the sons of a Nozomi team member was out playing in a field by his home and came home with a bag of broken pottery.  "Mommy!  I found jewelry!'  

He carefully washed each piece and laid it out on a tray for the Nozomi staff to make into something beautiful.  Each time it rains, hidden pottery becomes unearthed, constant reminders of both the tragedy and the hope that has emerged since.  

Those pieces are now being cut, ground, shaped, and remade into something beautiful.  

While each rainstorm brings new reminders of an unforgettable tragedy, it also brings hope.  Beauty in brokenness.  

Happy Anniversary Sneak Peek!

COMING on October 2!   (10/2 at 8 am Japan time; or 10/1at 7 pm EST).  Preferred customers:  10/1 8am Japan time, or 9/30 7 pm EST. Sign up on our home page for our mailing list to become a preferred shopper! 

With only thirty of each style, we are thrilled to release our 2016 Anniversary Necklace! These limited edition necklaces are wonderful representations of the incredible workmanship and growth of our Nozomi artisans these past four years. 

1) Our 2016 framed anniversary necklace is the largest framed pottery pendant we have ever made!  The size and delicate thinness makes each rectangular piece a work of art, with each pottery piece cut and ground and inserted with amazing precision. These bold and beautiful one-of-a-kind necklaces are sized at 47 x 25 x 3.7 mm. Antique gold pendants are 24 K gold-plated; antique silver pendants are .999 sterling silver plated.  These amazing pottery pendants are attached with a 6 mm textured jumpring to our favorite soft black or brown deerskin leather (note that we cannot switch leather colors).  A silver or gold-plated ornate bead allows your necklace to be adjustable up to 35 inches. $75. 


2) Our 2016 wire-wrapped anniversary necklace is intricately hand-wrapped by one our finest artisans with 20-26 gauge tarnish-resistant brass and/or silver wire. The stunning, one-of-a kind pendants are attached with soft black or brown deerskin leather (note that we cannot switch leather colors). A silver or gold-plated ornate bead allows your necklace to be adjustable up to 35 inches. (Please note: all wire will eventually tarnish, so we recommend that you keep your one-of-a-kind necklace in the enclosed ziploc bag when it's not being worn. Please handle your necklace carefully as the wire, while firm, can be bent.  For more information on care of your Nozomi necklace, please see our FAQ).   $65 & $75. 

 With this exclusive offer, your Nozomi purchase includes:

  • a $15 donation to Japan disaster relief.  We are currently supporting dire needs  including: Kumamoto (spring 2016 double earthquakes) and Iwate prefecture (fall 2016 typhoon and severe flooding). Please see our link on modeling generosity for updates and previous donations Nozomi Project has made to other needs in Japan and around the world.   
  • A handmade oyster shell jewelry dish is perfect for your favorite rings, earrings, or trinkets. In keeping with the ethos of Nozomi Project, we love the idea of up-cycling an item that is so common yet essential to the Ishinomaki community! Oysters are one of the main industries of our city, and this business has gradually been recovering since the 2011 tsunami. Each unique shell was collected at one of our local beaches, cleaned, bleached, and painted by our staff. We hope it serves as yet another reminder of hope and beauty!

  • A 2016 fall signed anniversary photograph of our Nozomi staff.  

Your gifts will come beautifully adorned in tissue paper, including our signature blue and white cards and all carefully bundled in a box to ensure its safe arrival.



Staff Picks!

Every day new pottery pieces emerge and become something beautiful in the hands of the Nozomi Project staff. Each week we're sharing with you an inside look at the items that our staff are excited about and feature the current favorite piece of one of our staff. This week Naomi picked some beautiful pieces for you! 

"The first Nozomi Project gift that I got for my mother was a Kumamoto bracelet. She loved the lapis stones and it made me so happy to see how much she enjoyed it.  All of Nozomi's creations bring joy and a smile to peoples' faces. If you aren't sure what kind of gift to get for someone, you can always find something beautiful in one of our collections."  - Naomi

The great thing about the Kumamoto pieces is that half of their proceeds goes towards supporting earthquake relief efforts in Kumamoto prefecture.  These are available for a little time. 

We're able to send a message of joy to the people there through these Kumamoto collections.


Home   Click here to view our Kumamoto collection

Today's Featured Items: 

This Week's Staff Picks


Every day new pottery pieces emerge and become something beautiful in the hands of the Nozomi Project staff. Each week we're going to give you an inside look at the items they are excited about. In each post we'll feature the favorite piece of one of our staff that she came across that week. This week Tomoko shares why she loves our Mako Chain necklace.


"I love the way the Mako chain sparkles in the light, making the pottery shard stand out as well. The shimmer makes it feel more dressy  than I expected."

- Tomoko 



Mako gold or silver faceted bead chain hangs beautifully, centered with a free-form framed pendant sure to be an heirloom in your jewelry collection. Our elegantly simple gold chain is plated in 24 K gold; our silver is .999 silver plated. Our bead-chain necklace is extra long (34 inches; 84 mm) to suit even our tallest customers; if desired please use scissors to shorten the chain to your desired length.

If you're into the long necklace trend but want something unique that can't be picked up just anywhere, Mako is for you. Find yours at the link below! 

Home   Mako Chain

Today's Featured Item:
Mako Chain 31-156 

This Week's Staff Picks


Every day new pottery pieces emerge and become something beautiful in the hands of the Nozomi Project staff. Each week we're going to give you an inside look at the items they are excited about. In each post we'll feature the favorite piece of one of our staff that she came across that week. This week Hiromi shares why she loves the new Organic Collection.

Here are this week's featured items:

"I really love the Organic Collection because when I began working at Nozomi Project, we had already moved towards creating items with a more finished look. The Organic Collection features the 'as-is' look of Nozomi's earliest pieces, but they are all new to me!"

The Organic Collection features pieces that maintain the unpolished, broken pottery look that is reminiscent of Nozomi Project's first accessories. Our jewelry artisans use grinding machines just enough to make these pieces safe and smooth to the touch without losing the natural, broken pottery feel.

Each piece is organically one-of-kind, and allows the beauty of the pottery to speak for itself. We feature various styles, each piece priced according to the collection.


Home    Organic Collection

This post's item list:
Ai Organic 19-669
Saya Organic 12-1229

Why we never run out of brokenness

It has been five plus years since the tsunami and earthquake struck our beloved region; almost four years since we first started gathering together to see what treasures we might be able to make from the pottery left in its wake.  Here are a couple of photos from our first gathering: 



The natural frequent question is: "Have you run out of pottery yet?  What then?"


Thankfully, we are not worried, and well supplied.  We still have some bins of broken pottery that hundreds of volunteers helped to pick up the first couple of years after the disaster.  

And, we have had an ongoing supply from a local Ishinomaki secondhand store.  They receive many boxes of dishes, and give us the ones that they cannot sell or use.  They are so happy to donate these to our organization.  

We also occasionally receive donations from local friends and others who hear about our work and donate items (if you want to donate broken dishes/pottery to Nozomi Project, you can find our address here.  We cannot do special orders at this point nor cover the shipping costs, but we always love donations of new beauty in brokenness!).  This spring we were so touched by new friends in Kumamoto who, upon receiving help after the spring earthquakes that hit their region, have given Nozomi Project their broken items.  

So we don't expect to run out of pottery!  What we DO expect, however, is that our staff will continue growing in their skills and artisanship in making amazing jewelry out of broken pottery.... We suspect that our staff will continue making beauty from brokenness for making years to come.... And we are so thankful for our many friends who share the story of Nozomi Project and have helped us ship 25,000 products to 32 countries around the world!