Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight 1

Tulip Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight

We are honored and happy to introduce the new Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight Thin from Tulip Needle Company in Hiroshima, Japan.

Needle Manufacturing in Hiroshima has more than three hundreds years of its history. Tulip Company was established in 1948 and thay have been producing fine needles for all crafting purposes. No need to mention, almost 70 years of its beautiful history proven the quality of their products is supreme. With collaborating to Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya, Tulip Company produced the great Sashiko needle for the sashiko stitching purpose.

 

One day, Keiko received a favor to use their previous Sashiko needle if she could provide the suggestion for the improvement as the active Sashiko artist. She used the needle in the several unofficial projects, and then she provided the report with advice. Based on the report, Tulip Company created the beautiful tool for Sashiko: Sashiko needle Big Eye Straight (Thin and Thick Size)

 

A Thin size is available.

A Thick Size will be available soon.

 

 

Good tool make your project rewarding

Sashiko requires you to spend a lot of time. The hand-stitching is the beauty of Sashiko, and as long as it is hand-stitched, it takes a lot of time to complete. We want you to have the beautiful stitching result so your project will be rewarding. One of the most important preparation to have the best result is to get the supreme quality tools. Although we have already introduced our Sashiko needles we use, the Sashiko needle from Tulip Company would be the very nice needle to have a side. The different project (fabric/design ) would require a different kind of needle.

 

I will make a report of how these two needles are different based on my experiences from now.

*Shop Sashiko Tools with great quality

Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight Size
Sashiko Needle We use on a regular basis.

 

Beautiful Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight

Not only their needles are so beautifully made, but the package of Sashiko Needle Big Eye straight also attract people’s sense of beauty. I wish we could soon produce the beautiful package like this. I believe the package of Tulip needle can be a good gift idea for your friends you would like to share the passion of Sashiko.

Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight 3 Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight 2
Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight4 Sashiko Needle Big Eye Straight 6

 

 

Modern Denim Fashion 2

Modern Denim Fashion with Japanese Sashiko

The word of Sashiko is getting popular in many industries, even in a field of fashion. As the Sashiko artist, I am happy that people get inspired by the image of Sashiko. Although some seem to misunderstand what Sashiko is, the spreading the concept of Sashiko matters first. As a part of my Sashiko challenge in 2017, I restarted practicing Sashiko on the denim fabric. I hope my sample pieces would influence the modern denim fashion, and contribute to the actual Sashiko culture, “the repurpose, appreciation to the fabric, and sustainability.”

*Please refer to the previous article regarding my understanding to Sashiko and its definition. 

 

The fabric lasting longer by rich stitching

Sashiko is a form of stitching to repair, mend, and strengthening the fabric. The famous Japanese vintage fabric “Boro” is the result of repeated Sashiko stitching. Sashiko is well-known for patching and mending the hole in the fabric and torn fabric. In the modern society, Sashiko transformed its concept a bit and now well-known for decorative stitching from Japan.

 

In my Modern Denim Fashion projects, I perform both stitching to strengthening the fabric and mending the torn fabric. The fabric gets much stronger by having so many rich stitching. When the fabric is stronger, the denim garment can last longer. The longer we can use the garment, the more appreciation we can have to the fabric.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the garment with Sashiko is even more beautiful (fashionable) with stitching?

Hand-Stitched Sashiko Jeans 223

 

The possibility in Sashiko with Modern Denim Fashion

Every stitch is done by hands… Therefore, I cannot produce many samples in the short period of time. However, I hope, these samples with Sashiko stitching will influence the modern denim fashion field and spread the concept of Sashiko. It is very difficult to change the mass-production and mass-consumption society. I do not intend to criticize this beneficial industry. In fact, I get to benefit from mass-production. I just would like to spread the concept of appreciation to the fabric, mending and repairing, and ultimately, “repairing it instead of replacing it.”

 

Modern Denim Fashion 23

 

 

Please wait for my update with more samples. I believe we can surprise the world.

 

*You can purchase the swatches of sashiko fabric to patch (stitch-on) to your garment instead of stitching directly. 

 

 

Sashiko Dream

Sashiko Dream after sharing what we have

My goal, through Upcycle Stitches LLC, is to introduce what Sashiko is to the world. In other words, I would share the Sashiko techniques so everyone can enjoy Sashiko stitching and its culture behind it. “Make Sashiko as open-sourced information” is the key phrase I came up with. Not everyone has to be like me or Keiko. I want each craftsman/artist to use the technique and culture I use to expand their possibility in their own project/art. If I could meet a fashion designer who appreciates what I have been sharing through Sashiko, it would be a great return for me. Well, how about my dream? I suppose I should also mention about my Sashiko Dream, and why I am investing so much money and time into Sashiko.

 

A Sashiko Studio where people can gather

My immediate Sashiko Dream is to have a Sashiko Studio where people can gather for their Sashiko needs. I would host various kinds of Sashiko workshops regularly. People could come and ask questions about their Sashiko project. Good Sashiko materials and supplies such as threads, fabric, and tools would be available for sale after touching the actual samples. Visitors can share their projects and get/give inspiration to/from others. The studio can be a small place, but I would like to update my “virtual studio” in my house to the actual shop on the street.

Days we can fully focus on Sashiko and its operation

Most of the profits from our online stores, workshops, and advertisement on our media are accumulated for the dream above, to have the studio. It is a bit of my personal story, but my full-time job was (still is) to maintain my family. I am a home-maker father. Cleaning, Cooking, and other house chores come first to me in a daily basis. Thanks to my partner who provide the bread to the family, I can continue what I think I should, Sashiko.

Even Keiko, who is a great Sashiko artist, occasionally work part time as a cafe-waitress to get some extra cash for her expenses. It isn’t easy to maintain the life with engaging in “all-hand-made crafts” industry. Regardless of our personal situation, Keiko and I believe that someone would need to pass Sashiko to the next generation, to the future, and I believe that “someone” would be us and our friends in Japan, and all over the world.

 

One day, we would be able to just focus on Sashiko. Hosting many customers who are interested in Sashiko and provide the appropriate answers and solutions.

That is my, and our Sashiko Dream for coming a few years.

 

Sashiko as a form of culture

How about a mid-term dream? From now, my personal understanding kicks in a lot. So please read it as my opinion.

Sashiko is now a form of “hobby.” I am not saying the Sashiko artists are creating their products unprofessionally. I am saying it is difficult to make Sashiko as an industry in this society. I do not know a person who lives by doing only Sashiko. In other words, I don’t know anyone who lives without the additional income resources (or other financial support like me).

 

Although there were small Sashiko industries in some towns in Japan, Sashiko used to be merely a daily chore. In snowy towns surrounded by mountains, women stitched to repair or strengthen the fabric for men over the winter when they didn’t have farming jobs.

 

Chore, Hobby or Industry. I don’t know what is the right form of Sashiko to be passed down. However, I would like to keep the culture of Sashiko including its history and concepts behinds it.

 

Culture is something we intend to leave for

Some people say that things or concepts survived for a long time and remained its form is so called culture. Personally, I think culture is something we purposefully try to leave for the society. If everyone on the earth agreed that we no longer need the concept of Sashiko, then, what I am trying to do may be a waste of time. However, by meeting many people who are interested in the concepts of “sustainability, repurpose, and recycle,” Sashiko will remain in the future by receiving a lot of supports from many people. We would like to be the part of the movement, and moreover, we would like to protect what we have.

It is much easier to preserve what we have than researching and discovering what we had.

 

Being famous is a process to make Sashiko Dream come true, not the goal.

Very nice people who met us and who saw our Sashiko arts tell us that they want Keiko and I be famous. We are very honored to recieve these compliment, and we would like to be famous if there is a chance. However, being famous is neither our goal nor dream. It is a process of acheving the Sashiko Dream I described above.

 

 

Places where we Upcycle what we have.

The more I meet people who appreciate the culture of sustainability, the more I feel I would need to learn about not only Sashiko but also the concept itself.

Even limited to Sashiko, I know only the one aspect of Sashiko technique and the history in one small region. Other than Sashiko, the learning materials is unlimited.

 

One day, I would like to have places where we share the culture, technique, and passion to upcycle what we have.

 

No More New Cloth 2

No More New Cloth ~ Is it even possible?

One afternoon, I refurbished my 5 years old Sashiko Wallet by patching and Sashiko Stitching. I enjoyed the process, and the result was even more enjoyable. I felt that I followed the path of Boro: when Japanese kept mending their fabric with needle and thread. Then, I realize… why don’t I mend and repair everything I put on? Here is a statement of my silly challenges; I purchase No More New Cloth.

The article about Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project

 

Simply, I will purchase no more new cloth

The outline of the challenge is quite simple. I don’t purchase the new cloth such as Jackets and Jeans. I will keep wearing what I have now, and I will keep mending and repairing the garment when it get torn or hole. I have been enjoying the denim mending with Sashiko. On top of my interest, this challenge may investigate the possibility of recycling the cloth and fashion. The core concept is: Repair it instead of Replace it.

I will purchase the fabric to mend and repair. Every time I repaired my garment instead of replaced it, I will update the website to make the challenge progress report. This should be a fun challenge since I always tried to purchase the good quality cloth instead of cheap fast fashion cloth (of course, some of them are from fast fashion brand…) I hope this challenge can influence the society even a bit.

 

 

No More New Cloth

A few exception

Please understand these categories are the exception of this challenge. Only because I don’t want to make the others uncomfortable more than necessary. Original Boro is pretty dirty and stinky, but my challenge should focus on clean recycling and repurposing.

  • New underwear, pairs of socks and towels
  • Formal cloth such as the business suit and tuxedo
  • Gifts and Presents from others

 

The biggest obstacle for this silly challenge

Well… on big obstacle for this challenge is my body shape. Since I became the father, I gained more than 20 pounds… Some pairs of jeans is too tight to wear. So I will watch my weight and keep repairing what I love.

 

Speed of Sashiko 1

Speed of Sashiko ~ How fast can we stitch

People may have an image of Sashiko as the careful slow hand-stitching work; carefully making one stitch by one stitch. It is very important to concentrate on every stitch. However, I believe the Speed of Sashiko stitching is also very important when you enjoy Sashiko. The faster the person can stitch, the more project he/she can work on. The more projects he/she can finish, the better the Sashiko technique will be.

 

Take a look at the video I took for Japanese Running Stitch. No tutorials or descriptions are available on the video, but it will show you the concept of “running” stitch. It isn’t as fast as the machine stitching, but stitching the pattern one stitch by one stitch will take too long to “enjoy” Sashiko.

(Other videos are available on Sashi.Co Youtube Channel)

 

Enjoy the rhythm with Speed of Sashiko stitching

Another reason I occasionally mention about the speed of Sashiko is the rhythm of running stitch. As you can see on the video, I make about 3~5 stitches in one pushing and make the total of 20~30 stitches before pulling the needle through. This rhythm is very calming. I feel like it has the similar efficacy to meditation. When I am in the rhythm, I lost the sense of time.

I would like to introduce the other side of Sashiko efficacies besides making the beautiful patterns and it makes fabric stronger/repair the fabric. In order to share the aspect of Sashiko I am enjoying, the speed of Sashiko stitching is quite important to explain first.

The Speed of Sashiko I can perform now

It took about 90 minutes to do Sashiko from the photo_1 to photo_2. Once you learn how to use thimble and needle appropriately, achieving the speed on the video is the matter of practice, absolutely NOT impossible. The faster people can stitch, the more they can enjoy Sashiko. The more they enjoy Sashiko, the better up-cycle and re-purpose culture would be. I hope you would have a chance to learn how to use thimble and needles to achieve the Speed of Sashiko.

 

The Speed of Sashiko 2
Photo_1 The Speed of Sashiko

 

The Speed of Sashiko 2
Photo_2 The Speed of Sashiko
Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 1

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project

Since 2012, I have been using a Sashiko card-holder as a wallet to carry my debit/credit cards. After repeating putting my jeans pocket so many times, even the Sashiko fabric start getting torn. When I share the photo on Instagram, many people reacted to the photo how interested they were to see the process of repairing. It became like a Boro mending, so here is my Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project.

Repair it instead of Replace it

My wallet looks like the photo. There are some holes. The edge of wallet started fraying. Soon or later, the wallet will be completely torn and it will not function as the card-holder. Replace it, or repair it to reuse it.

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 0

 

First, the most important step. Preparing the Sashiko fabric to patch. I prepared several kinds of Sashiko fabric to see which one is the most appropriate fabric.s

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 2

 

Choosing the “right” fabric for the project is very fun part. I spend good amount of time to decide the one would be great on Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project.

 

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 3

 

After selecting the fabric, the repairing stitch start. Unlike the Sashiko running stitch, repairing takes more time, one stitch by one stitch. Since the needle go through several layers of fabric, it is so hard to push through the needle. The pain of my finger is the by-product of this beautiful Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair.

Here is the photo of before and after.

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 0 Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 1

 

The repair for inside wasn’t necessary much. I made a few stitches to reinforce the patch I made outside. The few stitches look pretty unique as well.

 

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair

 

The Concept of Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project

“Upcycle” and “Repurpose” are the keywords on our projects. When I realize my personal belonging (besides pairs of jeans) requires the Sashiko and Boro mending project, I was excited to repair that. The more I repair the fabric, the more I feel the attachment to the item. Using one item with care instead of replacing them every time you see the damage is the key concept of our activities.

 

The Wallet looks a bit like a Boro piece. By repeating the repairing, it will be more beautiful like the other famous boros. We, whoever interested in Sashiko and I, are creating the future Boros.

Sashiko Patchwork 1

Sashiko Patchwork and its Concept

The Japanese used to say; “When you have a piece of fabric as large as the size you can wrap three soy beans, you should keep it so the piece of fabric may be useful in repairing.” We respect this concept in appreciating the fabric. We repair Boro with the small fabric, and we make a larger fabric as the Sashiko Patchwork.

 

A way to appreciate fabric: Sashiko Patchwork

The Japanese have an interesting word, which became quite famous outside of Japan, “Mottainai(もったいない).” This term conveys a sense of regret concerning waste. Personally, I would like to translate this term to “appreciation to the resource” instead of “regretting the waste.” When a person throws away the food, we say “Mottainai.” Although it indeed describes the regretfulness of the waste, I prefer respecting the concept behind the regretfulness of the word, the appreciation for the food as the limited resource.

The same concept applies to the fabric. We try to keep as many small pieces of fabrics as possible. By using them in Sashiko Patchwork or Mending Projects, we intend to give the fabric another purpose. Our main activity is to repurpose something which could be just a piece of garbage. Turning waste to the beautiful & useful things are the basic concept we follow.

 

Sashiko Patchwork 2

 

 

Needless to say, it is easier to use a sheet of fabric to make a bag.

Patchworking with small fabrics is a troublesome and time-consuming process. However, we believe the beauty of Sashiko patch working can influence many people who love arts, and contribute to the sustainable society by up-cycling and repurposing the limited resource.

 

The bag is made by Keiko (Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya).

One of Keiko’s specialty is to find the best small patch from a pile of “To be waste fabric” and create the beautiful piece. Keiko and I share the same goal of bringing the old fabric which people no longer need (use) back to the main stage of fabric. The main stage as the items being used by us.

 

 

Another way to appreciate: Repairing and Boro

A process of repairing the fabric with Sashiko and the resulting in Boro is another way to appreciate the fabric. We also repair Boro. Please spare some of your time to read another section of this website. We share many stories and projects of Boros.

 

 

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List for 2017_S Collection

I am grateful that I received some active reactions to the article I wrote about “why does Keiko create the Natural Dye Sashiko Thread.” After working hard on studying the Natural Dye Thread, we have a Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List for the Summer of 2017. All available for sale. This is the list of natural dye thread we can re-create. In other words, even after they get sold out, we can restock the very similar color (almost identical) Sashiko thread.

They are all available on our online store. The coupon for Sashiko threads (free shipping for a purchase with 5+ threads) is still active.

 

Summer 2017 | Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List

Gray Color Collection

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 2

Each of the beautiful gray colored threads has its uniqueness by adding a hint of other colors such as purple, green, beige, and indigo blue. Although the gray color collection is not as fancy as the pink color collection, the gray color matches to the vintage fabric very well. In fact, these gray colored threads are most often used thread in Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya collection.

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 002
#002 Japanese Nutgall
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 004
#004 Tangala
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 006
#006_Myrobalan
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 022
#022_Mountain Peach

 

 

Pink Color Collection

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 3

 

Pink Color Collection is our all time favorite. It looks beautiful on any color of fabric, and it adds the colorfulness to Sashiko.

It was challenging to stabilize the pink colors as the re-stackable thread. As you can see, one dye material, such as Lac Dye and Madder, can create several colors based on the condition and dye catalysts. Enjoy the beauty of purple to pink. They are even beautiful to just look at.

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 008
#008_LacDye
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 010
#010_LacDye
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 013
#013_Madder
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 014
#014_Madder
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 015
#015_Madder

Yellow Color Collection

We learned that our valued customer finds it difficult to use the yellow color in Sashiko. The yellow colors from Natural Dye could be a good substitute (or even upgrade) for the white thread. For example, the indigo blue fabric and yellow natural dye get the result of white looking. Both colors from Mountain Peach and Myrobalan will open up another possibility to your Sashiko project!

 

 

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List yellow

 

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 024
#024_Mountain Peach
Natural Dye Sashiko Thread List 025
#025_Myrobalan

 

Enjoy Sashiko!

 

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Sashiko Expensive

Is Sashiko Expensive Art for wealthy people?

Is Sashiko Expensive in the contemporary textile market?

The answer is, unfortunately, “Yes.” Sashiko artisans spend a huge amount of time into a project, and therefore, the Sashiko art/craft can be expensive in comparison to the other textile products. For example, Sashiko Bags produced by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya costs in a range of $100 to $500. Although the price isn’t crazy compared to the high-end product, for the small handbag made from cotton fabric, the price is relatively expensive.

 Sashiko Expensive 1  Sashiko Expensive 2

Is Sashiko supposed to be Expensive? Was Sashiko expensive?

In my understanding of Sashiko history and its origin, the answer is “No”: Sashiko shouldn’t be expensive. I believe that Sashiko was found as the “art (craft)” in the movement of defining Japanese Folk Art, Mingei. (About Mingei Movement in Japan.) Sashiko was everywhere in Japan a few hundred years ago. It was the technique to appreciate the fabric for the ordinal people by the ordinal people. In fact, Sashiko was developed because people didn’t have enough money to purchase the new clean fabric. The culture arose in the completely opposite side of “expensive”.

 

Why is Sashiko Expensive now?

It is simply because the people who engage their life into Sashiko is very few in the 21st century. The demand for Sashiko drastically shrank, and the Sashiko craftsman/artists needed to find other jobs to survive. The economic growth based on the capitalism introduced the mass-production and mass-consumption (replace rather than repair), and the culture of repairing fabric with Sashiko became the inefficient, unproductive, and non-logical solution for the society.

In Hida area, our family took a quick move to make Sashiko into the local crafts and souvenirs for tourists who visited the old town in Takayama. They followed the concept of Mingei Folk Art movement and made a division of labor, such as Sashiko stitching, tailoring, pattern designing and drawing, and even the management in form of company. Until the end of 20th century, Sashiko (in Hida) was very reasonable crafts for many ordinal people.

 

After losing many Sashiko artists and craftsman in each division of labor because of their age, the management had to shift the organizations’ policy to produce more expensive “one-of-a-kind” products with respecting the remaining artisans, in order to keep Sashiko culture alive in next 10 years, and hopefully in next 100 years. In order to compensate to the works they do & to the value they create, the Sashiko became expensive.

 

Sashiko became unusual, therefore, sashiko became Expensive.

*There is only a few craftsmen/artists who make their living with only doing Sashiko. At least, I know some Sashiko artists in Japan, but they do have other jobs to make living, or they have another source of income besides the Sashiko. So do I, and so does Keiko. 

 

I would like to make Sashiko (Art) to everyone, again.

 

Personally, I favor the concept from Mingei Japanese folk art movement. I believe Sashiko shouldn’t be crazy expensive art only for the wealthy people. We would really appreciate the support from the wealthy people to sustain the culture. However, our goal is not to make a fortune and be successful in the definition of capitalism.  I even feel that the society where Sashiko expensive seems a bit unhealthy for the human being.

 

Our goal is to make Sashiko available to everyone, again, as ordinal people did a few hundred years ago in Japan.

Sashiko was popular in every (poor) place in Japan. Therefore, the ordinal people stitched to help the other ordinal people. Mingei Movement found the beauty in these ordinal work. I also believe the ordinal Sashiko work is so beautiful, and as the result, it can get the reputation as the art.

 

After the big wave of the age of mass-production and mass-consumption, in another word of fast-fashion, people start realizing the inside problems. Most of the fabric can be repaired before replacing them. The ultimate result of repairing without replacing by making stitches with Sashiko is the famous textile so called Boro.

 

Wouldn’t be nice if you can repair your cloth by yourself as you wish, or ask someone with reasonable price instead of replacing it every year? However, please do not misunderstand. I am not trying to change the fashion field by denying the mass-production culture. I appreciate the accomplishments of the industrial revolution. What I am trying to say here is, it would be nice to spread the “repair culture” so we can have the option to our fashion, the human nature of what we wear.

 

As I mentioned above, I am also one of these Sashiko artists who cannot make the own living by only doing Sashiko. Therefore, we sell Sashiko supplies and materials for profit and provide the Sashiko workshops with fees. I believe I am providing the value equivalent to the money I receive. At the same time, I would like to spread the technique and culture who cannot afford the money by uploading the video, articles, and tutorials.

(For example, Youtube Channel is free to watch from anywhere.)

 

 

 

 

 

Your understanding is always appreciated, and your voice is always encouraging.

Until the day I really have to take care of my family, I will continue the way I ideally (idiotically) dream of. “Sashiko Expensive” to “Sashiko Appreciative”.

 

Footnotes:

I cannot thank enough to my wife who provides the quality life to the family, and my daughter who understands what her daddy wants to share to the world. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to pursue the unrealistic goal.

Mingei Art Movement

Mingei Art Movement in Japan and Sashiko

For a long time, I never doubted myself that the Sashiko is the “handicrafts art” which was found in Japanese Mingei Art Movement. I’ve read some books about the theory by the founder, Yanagi Souetsu (or Muneyoshi),  of this Japanese folk movement. I’ve visited the folk art museum in Tokyo where Mr.Yanagi established. I still believe that Sashiko in a large category of fabric wouldn’t be famous if the Mingei movement didn’t occur in 1920s and 1930s. Sashiko wasn’t the main crafts Mr.Yanagi focused. He significantly worked on the pottery, especially those were used in the Japanese Tea ceremony.

 

None of my understandings changed. However, I come to realize that I had never tried to explain what Mingei Art Movement was in English. Although I had briefly introduced it throughout my Sashiko workshops or when I introduce Sashiko, it was merely a quick mention with a very shallow explanation. Introducing “how” to do Sashiko is important in the workshop. However, introducing Sashiko’s history by explaining how it came to the surface of art-culture is also a very important aspect of passing Sashiko down to next generation. We, as Upcycle Stitches LLC, will try our best to describe it in English.

 

*Most of the writing is based on my (Atsushi’s) interpretation. In other words, they are merely my opinion based on books from the past and talks from people. When I refer the definition or sentence from existing book, I, of course, will refer the origin. However, the reference may be only in Japanese.   

*As I mentioned above, Mr.Yanagi described Sashiko only a little bit. He mentioned the beauty of Sashiko in Tohoku (Northern part of the main island). I haven’t found any articles about our Sashiko in Hida region and Mingei Movement. However, I believe, there are many handicrafts that Mr. Yanagi didn’t find yet to follow the concept of Mingei Art Movement.

 

Terminology of Mingei

There are a few words I need to define first. These word-definitions are my personal understanding. If you think of the better definition, please kindly let me know. I am still in the process of learning Mingei Art Movement.

 

  • Mingei (民藝): Folk Art. Min (民)means (ordinally) people. Mingei is the art produced by (ordinally) people. In contrast, Kan (管)means (governmental) officers. 
  • Kougei(工芸): Industrial handicrafts. Explaining the difference between Mingei and Kougei is my challenge here, too.
  • Gei-Jyutsu (芸術): Art.

I will keep updating the terminology while I proceed in updating the website regarding this topic.

What is Mingei?

Mingei is the art produced by the ordinal people for the daily life of the ordinal people. The art produced for loyal family, noble people and government people are not in a category of Mingei. Therefore, Mingei often has different look comparing to the other well-known Japanese art. Mr.Yanagi defined Mingei with the 8 criteria.

  1. Practical: made for practical usage, not for the display.
  2. Nameless: made by unknown craftsman, and the craft is not made to be famous.
  3. Mass-produced: In order to meet the demand from the people, the item were made in mass quantity.
  4. Reasonable Price: Inexpensive price so the ordinal people could purchase and use.
  5. Locality: The art item has the local characteristic such as color, shape, and patterns.
  6. Division of Labor: For the mass production, the art item was made in division of labors by skilled craftsman
  7. Tradition: Following the tradition and wisdom the ancestors cultivated.
  8. Collectability: The creation depend on the local tradition and climate rather than the individual skill

 

The Wikipedia describes the definition like below. I plan to explain each criteria based on my understanding to Sashiko. This is not a research paper, more like an essay to introduce what Sashiko is more clearly.

The philosophical pillar of mingei is “hand-crafted art of ordinary people” (民衆的な工芸 (minshū-teki-na kōgei)). Yanagi Sōetsu discovered beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. According to Yanagi, utilitarian objects made by the common people are “beyond beauty and ugliness”. Below are a few criteria of mingei art and crafts:

  • made by anonymous crafts people
  • produced by hand in quantity
  • inexpensive
  • used by the masses
  • functional in daily life
  • the representative of the regions in which they were produced.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mingei)

What Mingei Art Movement brought to the world

 

Mingei Art Movement Sashiko

 

Mingei Art Movement influenced not only to the Japanese who didn’t focus on the beautiful art by ordinal people, but it also influences the western culture by introducing the Japanese, Korean and Chinese culture regarding handcrafts. In order to explain the whole picture of Mingei Art Movement thoroughly, I would need to start writing about the aspect of religion. For now, I am not ready to start the deep discussion of the whole picture of Mingei Art Movement.

I will keep writing about the Sashiko, and Mingei Art Movement regarding Sashiko.