Some Production and Some Consumption

Some Production and Some Consumption

I am merely a Sashiko practitioner who enjoys stitching. Neither did I start introducing Sashiko to advocate the current social issues, nor I plan to be a lobbyist for one particular movement. However, the more I talk about Sashiko, the more I realize the people would like to learn both “why we do Sashiko” and “How to do Sashiko”. This is a blog post of my idea of the potential social shift: The “wealthy” society of Mass Production and Mass Consumption to the “caring” society of Some Production and Some Consumption.

*This blog post is Atsushi’s personal philosophy, mainly translated from his Japanese blog post here.

 

Our (Sashi.Co) Basic Concept

 

As I mentioned above, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is a group of Sashiko artisans who loves Sashiko and re-purposing the Japanese vintage Fabric. Upcycle Stitches LLC is a legal entity to introduce Sashiko in the USA established by Atsushi, who moved to the USA in 2014.

Our goal and concept are quite simple: to enjoy Sashiko.

We are not like the typical company which aims to achieve certain growth and/or to comes up with the innovations to change the world.

 

Keiko loves the Japanese Vintage Fabric. Whenever she finds the beautiful Japanese fabric, especially those are not in a good enough shape to be used as the fabric, she talks to the fabric saying “I will bring you back to the main stage again.” This story is a beginning of Sashi.Co. and it is a project to support Keiko’s idea and her production.

 

My (Atsushi’s) idea to support Keiko’s activities was to introduce Sashiko. The more people enjoy Sashiko, the more support Keiko would receive directly or indirectly. Meanwhile, I enjoy Sashiko myself, I try to introduce Sashiko in English as a form of voices from the surviving artisans (instead of an interpretation or translation of books).

 

In order to introduce Sashiko, we have to know what Sashiko is.

As I keep writing in this blog, the Sashiko has not become the way of art yet. Unlike the other Japanese way of arts, such as Tea Ceremony or Ikebana (Flower Arrangement), Sashiko doesn’t have the mainstream (main family) to lead the culture. This is because Sashiko was too ordinary for the Japanese. When Japan was a poor nation, many Japanese performed Sashiko in each location. The poorer the people there, the more they had to do Sashiko, to merely make their days better.

 

The more I think, study, and research about Sashiko, the deeper questions and inquires I receive from the audience. Although I used to say, “I am not qualified to answer those deep and big questions”, it may be the time for me to start facing it as a Sashiko “Repair” Artist.

 

Is Sashiko Antithesis for the Pollution in Fashion?

 

In 2017, I had a great opportunity to talk about Sashiko in Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC (FIT).

It was the time that I just started introducing Sashiko in public, and to be honest, I wasn’t ready to face to the future stars in Fashion Industry. I have some regret that I would have done better. I still remember a brilliant question from one of the audience.

 

“What do you think of the Pollution in Fashion Industry? Can Sashiko be a part of the solution?”

 

I didn’t answer this questions very well.

I even said that it is too big of a problem to even mention my opinion. I am ashamed of this answer. I could have shared my personal philosophy regarding Sashiko and the social issues instead of letting myself down in front of the future Fashion stars who will contribute to the Fashion industry.

 

Therefore, I am doing it online now.

I am merely introducing my understanding of Sashiko. However, my understanding of Sashiko and its culture include the hope of Sashiko that I would like you to know. It isn’t me to solve the social issues. However, I can be part of the movement by sharing my personal opinions based on my experience in Sashiko.

 


Society of Mass Production and Mass Consumption

 

Throughout the Industrial Revolution, the concept of Assembly line with machines took over the hand-crafting manufactures. Thanks to this huge revolution, we get a benefit of having the mass-produced items with reasonable pricing. With the capitalism, the more the factory make the product, the less cost it takes to make a single item, then the more profit and the better distribution. The world had changed throughout this revolution and globalization. The current society is sustained by the economic system of mass production and mass consumption.

 

I get benefit from this revolution. I am writing this blog post with iMac, which is mass produced. Without the PC, I cannot even update my blog post. Everyone in this society is benefited from the revolution.

 

*The Japanese had a similar assembly line “without” machines in the Past, and the items and culture are called Mingei. It will require another blog post to share.

 

One of the key factors of Capitalism is the circulation of items and money. The more items move the more money moves. In order to move the items in mass production, the manufactures and company encouraged us to use and dispose of the items as quickly as possible: mass consumption.

It is a bit ironic, but the more we throw away the items, the more our life get wealthier (at least, it looks like that). When all of us stop replacing (throwing things away) the items, then this economy may corrupt. I enjoy the lifestyle that I can get pretty much everything I need by clicking the button online. This is the benefit we get from the capitalism and circulation.

 

The problem is, though, that “How long can we continue this circulation?

 

Some (most) of the natural resources are limited. Not all the “trash” aren’t trash. Recycling can be pretty costly, and there is the risk of recycling the item from the scratch. When we find the alternative resources, would this society continue forever?

 

Sashiko Beauty in Sustainability

 

The word “Sustainability” gets pretty popular in last 10 years or so.

The people with concerns about the social (environmental) issues start advocating the risk of the current society, and many waste and pollution got reviewed and improved. The fabric shopping bags (in Japan) to replace the plastic shopping bag is a great way to save the unnecessary waste. It is very important to “care” of the environment and take action within a capacity of what we can do.

 

Please do not take me wrong.

I am not saying we all should go to the extreme side of environmentalists. I don’t think I can stop using the plastic bottle, and I will keep using online store although I know the packaging is the complete waste of resources.

 

What I am writing right now is that we can “care” in our own field. We do not even have to “fix” the problem. By caring about the issue, and spreading the “care”, we as collective human being will ease the social issues, I believe. So, what I am saying is; “Mass Production and Mass Consumption to Some Production and Some Consumption”.

And there is a beauty in Sustainability with Sashiko. You may know it, already, the BORO is the ultimate result of Sustainable Textile Culture with countless repetition of Sashiko Stitching. The Japanese in a few hundreds years ago kept repairing the fabric by necessity, and now we enjoy the beauty from it.

 

Some Production and Some Consumption Boro
Boro Beauty from Some Production and Some Consumption

 

In order to share the beauty of Boro & Upcycle Fabric, I decided to not to purchase any new cloth.

This is purely my “Social Experiment” and I am not trying to implement this crazy idea to the others. I just want to see if we can do such a thing as repurposing and recycling what we have instead of replacing it. If everyone follows this, it will be Mass Production and Mass Consumption to Zero Production and Zero Consumption. I don’t want to do that because Some production and Some consumption is the base of New Fashion and Design. Also, going to the extreme is not following the Sashiko mindset. Please do not misunderstand what I am writing here.

I just enjoy, that the my old torn socks may be form of art in the year of 2200.

 

Sometimes, repairing doesn’t make sense at all

The idea of “Repairing the cloths instead of replacing them” contradict to the current mindset based on capitalism and circulation economy. It is much financially correct if you can replace your pair of jeans with $60.00 or so while it takes 20 hours of mending it. If you have a job earning the minimum wage in the USA, it is cheaper to replace the jean than getting it repaired by yourself or asking someone to do that.

 

This economical contradiction is the main reason I suffered so much in Sashiko Family. I kept wondering the meaning of keeping the Sashiko. If this is not economically right, why do I have to keep doing that?

 

This is my reply to the comment on our Instagram regarding the split mindset (philosophy).

I am sincere with you. Although I was raised in a Sashiko family, I have been struggling to find out the “meaningful” of Sashiko. In the economically wealthy society, repairing the item doesn’t make sense financially and economically. You can get a pair of good jeans less than $60, while you would need to spend either 20 hours to do so. It does not make sense from the modern mindset (I would like to avoid “western” here since the modern Japanese are like it too.) It is not all about cost and returns. Sashiko isn’t about “saving” the environment. It is about the appreciation to what we have already… That is my ‘temporary’ answer to what I love to do, Sashiko. I am working on writing an article about it. I will share it when I complete. I appreciate your comment. I feel sometimes I should replace things I have. My mother in law once cried when I was wearing the torn pants that I didn’t have enough money to replace. lol. I am doing it as a social experiment. Let’s see how it goes 🙂 Keep in touch!

 

Similar to Sashiko, the topic of “Replace or Repair” is not “right” or “wrong”. It is the matter of preferences, and the mindset will fall in between both extreme sides.

 

Some Production and Some Consumption

 

What I would like to share is NOT to make a society of “Mass Production and Mass Consumption” an evil exist. I get to benefit from it, and I believe you get to benefit from it. So, my points are pretty much two of these below.

 

  1. Appreciate what we have first. Then decide to replace it or repair it. Enjoy the process of repairing it by “caring” others and yourself (ourselves).
  2. Mass Production and Mass Consumption to Some Production and Some Consumption. A shift of mindset that “concept of the profit of manufacture is the purpose of activity” to “We all can benefit even with caring the environment.”

 

I hope it makes sense. I will keep reviewing & proofreading if I am describing myself appropriately.

 

Fashion Industry and Sashiko

 

At last, but not least, I would like to think of Fashion.

I need to study and learn more about Fashion to make a comment about it, but I can share my thoughts from the standing point as the Sashiko professional.

 

In my definition of Fashion, I understand that the Fashion is something to create and provide the “New Values” throughout styling. The origin of the trend is the fashion, and both excentric art styling and fast fashion connecting to our daily life are both Fashions.

 

So, can the idea of  “Appreciating the Fabric” be the new value in the Fashion industry?

I believe it can. In fact, the Boro became popular based on this concept, I believe.

 

The problem (concern) is that the value of “appreciating Fabric” create the low circulation of production. When the circulation go slower, the capitalists will get less return. If we all start saying, “Let’s replace the cloth and repair it for decades”, the apparel businesses will not be happy much because the customer stop buying new clothes. When the cloth isn’t selling well, they may stop producing the new clothes. This isn’t what I am trying to introduce.

 

I am doing the social experiment of “not buying any cloth” to see how it goes as the personal project. The idea of “not buying anything” can destroy the Fashion culture, and it is probably too extreme.

 

Therefore. I would like to share the idea of Some Production and Some Consumption, and “caring society” is the ideal place I would like to reach to.

 

Published on June 14th, 2016

Atsushi Futatsuya

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Cover

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project

It has been almost 7 years since I had encountered this beautiful project: Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko  Project. I sometimes refer this project as “Otsuchi Sashiko”. The official name for the project is  Otsuchi Recovery (Fukko) Sashiko Project (大槌復興刺し子プロジェクト).

 

After the earthquake followed by Tsunami on March 11th, 2011, the five volunteers established the project to support the people in Otsuchi, especially those who had nothing to do but sitting in the evacuation shelter. The men had a lot of things to require the muscle power after the disaster. The young generation also had many tasks to revive the infrastructure such as distributing the support goods and clean. However, those who wouldn’t be able to move, mostly elderly women, did not have things to do and had to wait for nothing in the non-private shelter.

 

Not only the fish (support goods such as food and blankets) but also a fishing rod (a method to make a living).

 

The project tries to create jobs for those who couldn’t do hard labor outside.

They have been trying to create the community where anyone can gather for the purpose of stitching.

We all then hope that the stitching can be a part of the purposes of their new life after the earthquake.

 

 

I, Atsushi, first join the project in June 2011.

Then, visited Otsuchi for an advice on creating a business (creating jobs) in November, then two months in February and March in 2012. Ever since the first day I met the project, I have been thinking what I and Sashiko can do for them.

I had written many articles and reports regarding the Otsuchi Sashiko in English, but I had to give them up when my father passed away and the stakeholders decided to shut down the website. Well, even after the sad reality of me leaving Sashiko behind for while, my mother, Keiko Futatsuya, kept in touch with them. Now, she is the advisor of Sashiko technique and designing in Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project.

 

I do not find many articles about Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project online in English.

It is my mission to write it down what this amazing and remarkable recovery project is. This is a story of Otsuchi Sashiko throughout my eyes and emotions. The story may be biased a bit, but I believe I am introducing the fact as sincerely and accurately as I can.

 

Brief History of Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project (OSP)

 

Otsuchi town was badly damaged by the earthquake followed by Tsunami, including the loss of town hall and the mayor and more than 1,280 of people’s life. The survivors how needed an evacuation shelter by losing their house were more than 9,000 people.

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Story 1 Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Story 2

A role for “mothers” and “grandmothers”

In the evacuation shelter, mothers and grandmothers, who were very much hard worker in their own house as a house-maker, didn’t have anything to do. There were no kitchen to cook, no living room to clean, no dishes to wash. Men and young generation could work for the cleaning debris, but the job required a lot of muscle power. Mothers and Grandmothers couldn’t help them even if they wanted to.

No car to commute. No place to work when a big part of the town is damaged by the Tsunami. The days of ladies in Otsuchi, well known for the hard-workers, had changed drastically.

 

The answers they had come up with was Sashiko, in which requires only a needle, thread, and piece of fabric. The Sashiko was doable in a limited space of the evacuation shelter. The mothers and grandmothers wanted to do “something” instead of just waiting.

 

 

One stitch by one stitch with hopes

An elder woman who lied down all the day in the evacuation shelter. A hard-working mother who lost her house-making job. A young woman who lost their job opportunity. Everyone in Otsuchi moved the needle with hoping the recovery of Otsuchi.
Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko project is their first step to the recovery by women in Otsuchi since June 2011.
The Earthquake destroyed the houses and jobs and took away our previous people. We, as Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project, would like to re-establish the town of Otsuch throughout Sashiko by strengthening, mending, and making it more beautiful.
*Sashiko is a needlework to reinforce, to repair, to mend, and to decorate the fabric. 

 

A vision of OSP

*Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project = OSP

 

Toward high-spirited Otsuchi

OSP strives to cheer up people in Otsuchi and related to Otcushi throughout the Sashiko Project.

When a mother, who enjoy Sashiko, is happy, the household will be filled with smiles. If the household is filled with smiles, the town of Otsuchi will be energetic. When the town of Otsuchi become energetic, everyone in the town and related to the town will be happy.

Our goal is to contribute to the recovery of the town of Otsuchi.

 

Tell the value of Hand-made culture

We strongly respect the value of hand-made craft culture with spending so much time and putting the good-heart in it in the era of “speed” and “efficiency (productivity)” with mass-production and mass-information. “Hand-Made Craft” provide us “Care” and “Mindfulness (Mental Wellness)” by thinking of other, and using our own hands.

We actually perform the handmade craft in every day and tell how previous they are throughout the project

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project

 

We also value these 5 categories throughout the OSP activities

 

Locality (respect to Otsuchi)

OSP rooted the town of Otsuchi, and try out best to contribute to Otsuchi throughout the project.

 

Particularity about Hand-Stitching

We are particular about providing the hand-stitching items for those who respect the culture of hand-made crafting. We care of customers and try our best to tell the value of hand-made culture.

 

Encourage the Self Esteem of artisans

We encourage our artisans (Sashiko-san) to build self-esteem of what they do by providing the opportunity to improve their skill and understandings. We also respect each other who enjoy the hand-made crafting (Sashiko)

 

Aiming the best continuously

We continuously try our best to improve our technique and product, and we strive to provide the best Sashiko product.

 

Place & Community

We respect the concept of “community”, the place everyone can gather and socialize. We provide the place where Sashiko-san (the artisans) can gagther, even without any purposes, and then the customer would like to visit to meet them.

 

OSP Facts

Coming soon. (Confirming the lastest numbers with Otsuchi Sashiko)

 

 

Purchase / Support the OSP

 

Purchase Sashiko Items from OSP

You may purchase Sashiko items, such as workman jacket and bags, that OSP provides at the Sashiko Exhibition including the one in the major department stores. You may contact me (Atsushi) if you have a specific item (or an idea of what you would like to purchase) for the detail. I am happy to provide as much information as possible. Not many products are listed online, but I believe I can provide the good amount of information for an online order.

 

For example, the bag below is about $350.00 in Total. ($300.00 for the bag plus shipping and handling of $50)

You will receive a card signed by the artisan (Sashiko san) who made the bag. Since everything is hand-made by the individual artisans, each item is completely one-of-a-kind.

 

 

 

 

Support by Donation to Non-Profit Organization

The OSP is managed by the certified Non-Profit Organization, Terra Renaissance.

If you wish to make a donation to the Otsuchi Sashiko, please contact me (Atsushi) for more detail. I will try to translate and connect you to the appropriate individual in the certified NPO Terra Renaissance. 

 

Support by purchasing the thread for OSP

Keiko and Atsushi Futatsuya have been supporting the Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project by providing the thread (initially free then specially discounted price for the continuously).

 

Needless to say, Sashiko thread is the key material to make Sashiko products. We have the campaign to ask the general public to purchase the thread for OSP naming “supporting thread” to connect Otsuchi and Takayama (where Keiko is located). If you are interested in this campaign, please contact Atsushi for the detail. (Working on the page for this now.)

 

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Support Thread

 

 

More Photos from OSP

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Title
Photo by t.koshiba
Judging Your Sashiko

No more Judging Your Sashiko | Atsushi’s Message

I believe you have come to our website to look for the Sashiko Information. The Sashiko information you would like can be an advice on how to do Sashiko appropriately or what is the “right” way to do Sashiko Stitching. I have been receiving many questions regarding “How to do Sashiko”, and I am happy that I have been sharing what I do on Youtube, on this website, and SNS such as Instagram. The comment I made on Youtube Live Streaming on 5/2 was somewhat memorable, and here is my writing about what I truly would like to share throughout Sashiko. No more Judging your Sashiko, and No More Judging what you do.

 

Answers are Important, but no Judging Your Sashiko

I understand that the comprehensive direction (Answers to your questions) in crafting are very important information. Most of the questions start with either “Should I…” or “Is that okay…” for my answers. I try my best to explain what I share is merely an advise but not the answers. However, I also understand that the audience prefers the solid answers than freedom such as “you can do whatever you want.”

 

The website and Youtube videos are for you to find the answers to your questions instead of me giving you the solid answer full of my preferences. Once you get the solid answer, you will start judging your Sashiko with saying “This isn’t beautiful enough….” and “What am I doing wrong….”. The judging yourself is a very critical process to get better in most of the art and crafting. However, I sincerely would like to share that the Sashiko is a process of needlework with caring others, not the process of judging your Sashiko Stitching.

 

A machine does the perfect job. We are human, though

If I only would like to have the perfect Sashiko Stitchings, I may use a machine to make the completely even stitches. Some of the sewing machines have a computer programing built in it, so the result will be perfectly accurate. However, many people enjoy the hand-stitching Sashiko. Why? It is because that the people enjoy not only the result with human-like imperfection but also the process itself.

 

Since we enjoy the actual stitching, I would like you to focus on the caring part than the judging part. I understand that you cannot stop doing it, but I would like you to try that. Instead of judging how uneven the stitches are, I want you to just observe the stitching and move the next line or next project. The result will be great if you keep doing it with appreciating the process.

 

The process of Judging is based on the problem-solving society. It is very important to have a critical-thinking-skill to be “successful” in this society. The successful business person will analyze the situation, find the problem to be improved, then solve it. It is the necessary skill to have in business, but not in Sashiko.

Instead of trying to “fix” the problem, I want you to try “observe” it. In fact, I want you to “keep” observing it. One day, you find that not only your stitching but your mind are pretty well-ordered. This is the mindfulness of “Sashiko” and the “Slow-stitching” I call. The stitching itself doesn’t have to be slow. It is silly to just try to be slow on everything. I just want your right brain (very critical skill) to be slow a bit. At least, when you enjoy Sashiko.

 

When you seek answers, then you will not be mindful.

There isn’t much information you need in Sashiko. Most of them, I already provided in Youtube videos and here. You will find your own answers by being mindful, and that is the Sashiko I would like to develop from the history of Japanese and share in this world.

 

Grey in the middle of Black and White

Sashiko is(was) a very ordinary needlework for Japanese for the ordinary Japanese people. Therefore, culture of Sashiko is strongly related to the Japanese culture and philosophy. I would like to share many similarities of Sashiko and the Japanese culture.

The people in the 21st century, including myself, would like to categorize the “color” either black or white. After categorizing the difference, we tend to label them. In most cases, these categorization ends in dualism, pretty much “Right (Correct)” or “Wrong (Inaccurate)”.

The Japanese didn’t have the strong influence from the dualism. We believe in something in-between, so like “Grey”, to blur the conclusion. Although it isn’t the best attribute in terms of business, I find it very interesting in Sashiko stitching. Most of the questions regarding “Right Sashiko and Wrong Sashiko” comes from Western culture, not from the Japanese.

 

I am not saying you have to follow the Japanese philosophy. What I am trying to say here is that Sashiko is not only about stitching, but also the culture behind it. By introducing the Sashiko’s concept, I believe I can contribute to the Japanese culture, and it is the best thing I can do as a Japanese.

 

*I can think of many other interesting story of Sashiko & Japanese philosophy relationship. I will keep updating this entry. It will be a long one 😀

 

Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko

Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko

Are you seeking for “Correct” Sashiko? It is one of the most popular questions on this website. Is my Sashiko correct or wrong? Here is my answer to the long-discussed topic: Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko.

 

About Rules and regulation in Sashiko

I wrote an article about rules and regulations in Sashiko.

There isn’t such a thing as Rules and Regulations in Sashiko. 

 

I am sorry for saying it, but there isn’t because Sashiko was (is)  too ordinary to Japanese. I understand the human prefer the solid answer than unregulated information. It is always easier to follow rules and manuals than starting from scratch.

 

The key of Sashiko is to enjoy hand-stitching and appreciate the fabric.

As long as you are following those concepts, I respect you as a Sashiko practitioner. There are techniques, advice, and hints to make Sashiko beautiful and efficient. However, it is not a form of rules telling you “What to do and what not to do.”

 

An Analogy to Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko discussion

 

Again. I understand that you prefer to have sort of rules to clarify your question of Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko. “Do whatever you want” is not a great approach in a process of learning something new. Therefore, I have many tutorials to share how “I” enjoy Sashiko and creates so many Sashiko items in a limited time. I would like to, however, avoid mentioning what is Correct and what is wrong. There is Sashiko I like and Sashiko I do not like. Would it make sense a bit more?

 

Pizza in American culture would be a good analogy for my understanding of Sashiko.

 

There are many kinds of Pizza in the United States, and in the world.

There is a Italian style Pizza, Chicago Style Pizza, New York Style Pizza, Frozen Pizza to Delivery Pizza. More and more.

Can you define which is “Correct Pizza” and “Wrong Pizza”? Please do not say that a Frozen Pizza is not a Pizza. I understand that people have the preference. Some people prefer deep dish Chicago pizza, and the other people may like cheap junky taste pizza.

 

Pizza is too ordinary for us to categorize what is Pizza and NOT.

Sashiko is(was) like this Pizza for the Japanese in the past. The ordinary Japanese, especially those who were in the poor region, performed Sashiko and each village, each family in the village, each family member in the family, had their original Sashiko.

 

Sashiko is merely a form of stitching

Sashiko Art items are so beautiful. I agree with that.

The people found the beauty in the repetitive stitching and its simplicity. They found the value in the concept behind Sashiko and its products such as Boro.

 

However, Sashiko is merely a form of stitching.

It is free to collaborate with any other textile culture, Art, and anything you can think of. For that matter, the reader of this article has more possibility than I do because my imagination in Sashiko is very limited to the traditional (and sometimes referred authentic) Sashiko.

 

I sincerely believe that Keiko (Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya) is a genius in Sashiko field.

Regardless of her 30+ years of experience in Sashiko field, she can create something new with the concept of Sashiko & its technique. If you are wondering what Sashiko is… and concerened with the discussion of Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko, please visit Keiko for her Sashiko items. They will clear all of the questions and motivate you to enjoy Sashiko more and more.

 

 

Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko
Indigo Sashiko Stitching + Kakishibu (Persimmon Tannnin) Dye Fabric.

 

The previous article about Sashiko Rules.

Sashiko Rules | Right & Wrong in Sashiko Stitching?

My Sashiko Story _ Cover

My Sashiko Story | 1. Care & Respect to others

It is my great honor that you are reading this article from millions of articles about Sashiko. I decided to write how I think about Sashiko as my Sashiko Story.

In 2017, I started introducing Sashiko in earnest. You may have seen some of my achievements on Youtube, Japanese TV Channel, or other online media including this website. My goal is to share what Sashiko is to pass down the culture of Sashiko to the next generation. As much as I would like to share “how” to do Sashiko, I also would like to introduce “why” we do Sashiko. Here is a series of my Sashiko Story.

 

Caring. The core of My Sashiko Story

 

Sashiko is (was) an ordinary daily work for the ordinary Japanese people.

I believe that the Japanese moved their needles with thinking about their family, especially those who would wear the Jacket outside. Sashiko was developed because of their poverty. The Japanese in the rural village didn’t have enough fabric to make the new Jacket for husbands. Instead of the wives make the clean, strong and neat Jacket for them, they repaired with their needle works, with caring the health and wellbeing of loving one.

 

We still do not have the sold definition for Sashiko (& Boro).

As long as my understanding goes, Sashiko is a form of simple needlework & process of stitching, then Boro is a result of repeating Sashiko. In other words, Sashiko is a process of caring others and appreciating what we have. Boro is a gift from these caring. Even small decorative stitches make me warm since I know someone hand stitch it.

*The Boro facebook Group I joined gave me an opportunity to think about it, and it is the reason I am writing my sashiko story.

 

It is not so much important “how” Sashiko items or Boro were made.

I like Sashiko because I can see the “care” people put into it. They had a good reason to enjoyed, or simply did, Sashiko for someone, or for themselves.

 

Of course, Sashiko is not all about beautiful stories. Above, I cut slice a beautiful part of Sashiko & Boro culture, which is “Appreciate and Care.” In contrast, there are many stories which include human-like feeling such as “greed” “envy” and “shame”, but I understand many cultures have both aspects. I will introduce some of the stories from both aspects accordingly.

 

Regardless, we do not have much “reasons” to “repair” in 2018. It is economically reasonable to purchase new fabric than repairing them. It is much efficient to use a sewing machine than making a hand-stitching. I would like to share the stories of why we enjoy Sashiko stitching as well as how to enjoy Sashiko stitching more.

 

It is all about “mending.”

This is from my Instagram Live Streaming in Japanese.

I talk a lot on many topics, but one of the topics I realized while I was actually saying is what we do throughout Sashiko is all about “mending”.

 

The Japanese used to do Sashiko to fulfill the needs of fabrics. It was to mend their cloth.

We now enjoy Sashiko to fulfill something we are losing. It is to mend our mind.

 

I believe the Japanese in the past also enjoyed Sashiko to fulfill something mindfulness. It is not a discussion of Black or White, which is more Western way of thinking. The Japanese appreciate the thinking of “Gray” which we call “中道{Chu-do- | the middle way)”. The way of thinking without dualism. Therefore, I keep saying there isn’t such a thing as “Right” or “Wrong” in Sashiko.

 

After all, it is all about respect to others.

 

My Sashiko Story _ Respect

 

Alright. There is no Right or Wrong in Sashiko. Well… Then, you may question yourself that:

If there is no Right or Wrong, we can do whatever we want in Sashiko and Boro?

 

The answer is Yes. You may do whatever you would like to by using your creativity and passion.

I respect and appreciate all of the translators, interpreters, and practitioners of Sashiko in many places all over the world. I enjoy some unique interpretation of Sashiko culture. Some of the work inspires me in making my Sashiko arts. As Sashiko wasn’t for anyone, even in 2018, Sashiko is not owned by anyone and we can do whatever we would like to do.

 

One thing, however, I would like to share is that the Sashiko is developed based on the concept of “respect,” especially for those who practiced Sashiko for a long time. In other words, I would like to share how important it is to respect the tradition.

 

A person may interpret however she/he wants to and do Sashiko.

However, the result will be very different if he knows and respects the tradition behind it.

 

It goes to the “Sashiko Industries”, too.

There are many suppliers, manufacturers, and businesses jumping into the Sashiko Market. Every time there is a “hand-craft” trend, they start creating the products line-up. However, when the boom is gone, they also take these items down since it wouldn’t be economically viable. I do not feel the respect from these suppliers.

Instead of those suppliers, I want Sashiko practitioners to be smart customers in purchasing and getting the products. Unfortunately, because of us being so mindless, many good Japanese traditional artisans had to close their operations. It is mainly because they didn’t have enough customers to pass their operation down to next generation.

 

It is an on-going process.

The long-established artisans are getting old, and most of them do not have the next person who takes over their traditions. We, as a Sashiko family business, is one of that. I had thought of closing our business so many times. I am only able to offer the service and products thanks to my family, and a Sashiko genius, my mother Keiko Futatsuya.

 

Sashiko is not only about “how to stitch” but also “how we would like to keep the culture”, I believe.

I respect, and sincerely appreciate the people who are part of our activities in Japan. They are all great in their tradition, and without them, I don’t think I can keep my Sashiko journey. Thread manufacture, Needle manufacture, Textile artisans, Dye artisans, and much more people who respect each other, and most importantly respect themselves.

 

I would like to welcome you to this beautiful, caring community, throughout Sashiko stitching.

My Sashiko Story will continue. Thank you for reading,

 

Link to other my Sashiko Story:

  1. Care & Respect Others

 

Sashiko Exhibition

Sashiko Exhibition with Otsuchi | The Power of Sashiko

The big earthquake hit Northeast Japan, almost 7 years ago, a cold day in March. In a process of recovering from this tragedy, Sashiko helped a group of people in small town, Otsuchi. We are honored to announce that the Otsuchi recovery Sashiko project hosts their Sashiko Exhibition to reiterated our condolences, to remember what happened. 

(Original English Announcement: The detail is on en.sashico.com | Sashi.co & Keiko Futatsuya)

*What is Sashiko?

 

The power of hand-crafting |

 

Otsuchi Sashiko Project had successfully created “a community” where survivors of Tsunami get together and practice Sashiko.

 

“We would like to deliver a fishing rod instead of a fish”

 

After receiving so grateful support supplies from in&out of Japan, we focused on how to bring them to “normal,” which seemed to be almost impossible. I don’t think we have brought them to “normal” but we are sure that we could help them physically and psychologically through Sashiko and hand-crafting. We surely see the power of Sashiko.

 

Every Sashiko items are all handmade.

There are similar designs, but they are all one of a kind Sashiko items, which is actually Sashiko art.

 

We are happy to introduce the Sashiko items in general public so people and touch, feel, and appreciate the precious works.

 

Sashiko Exhibition Flyer 1

Sashiko Exhibition Flyer 2

 

Sashiko artist, Keiko Futatsuya, will be in the gallery on March 10th and 18th.

The manager of Otsuchi Sashiko Project will be attending the lecture and opening on March 10th.

It is an event in Japanese, but it is a rare opportunity to enjoy the actual & traditional Sashiko items.

 

Sashiko Exhibition for anyone | in Gifu Prefecture

The Sashiko exhibition is open for free admission during March 10th to 18th between 10 am to 6 pm. The location of the gallery is not convenient for non-Japanese, but please contact us for the locations if you happen to be in Japan, in Gifu prefecture.

 

We will take photos and show our Sashiko arts.

 

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo 2018 | Gallery Ai in Kugayama, Tokyo

 

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo Description

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo

 

Date: May 8th to May 12th in 2018

[5/8 (Tuesday) to 5/12 (Saturday) in 2018]

 

Location: GALLERY AI in Kugayama, Tokyo.

 

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo 2018 | In Kugayama, Japan

Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials

To keep Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials & Database

Since 2017, I have received many questions and requests regarding Sashiko technique and workshops from all over the world. As I keep mentioning here, my goal throughout “Upcycle Stitches LLC” is to make Sashiko more open-sourced: Available anyone in the world. In order to achieve the goal, and to keep the Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials and Database, please understand that I manage several tutorials & database websites by myself.

 

It is not my best intention to share this type of notification. However, please care others when you request for something. “Caring” is the core of Sashiko, and sharing the core culture means a lot to me.

 

Please be reasonable when you ask for the request.

You may be surprised, but I had received some requests which do not respect my time at all. When I offer a workshop, there is a fee for my time investment. For some reasons, there are people who do not understand that logic.

 

I will not answer those contacts with just saying:

“Teach me Sashiko”

“Describe what Sashiko is”

 

Those vague requests cannot be done over the emails. Please read this website and/or Youtube videos before you shoot an email to me.

Also, if you receive a reply from me, regardless of the result if I can help or not, replying with gratitude is the form of care we would like to share through Sashiko. I do not expect everyone to read everything I write. I am happy to repeat the same information as many times as I need. However, please respect the time I invest in.

 

I have several cases which are “on-hold” because of missing the reply from the “possible customer.”

If you are the one who asked for the “free” information, I believe you are obligated to complete the conversation (the email exchange).

 

Get back to you regardless, but the priority exist.

I am honored to share the culture of Sashiko, including information and the technique of Sashiko. I am happy to be one to share that. However, because of these disrespectful requests, I would need to “choose” questions to get answered. It is so sad to prioritize the order in answering the question, but it is required to keep the Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials available.

 

When I am busy, I will answer the questions/requests following the order of:

  1. The Sashiko Supporters on our Patreon Community
  2. Atsushi or Keiko’s Sashiko Workshop Graduates | Online Sashiko Workshop Graduates
  3. Any Customers who had purchased an item(s) from our website.
  4. Any Customers who had purchased our brand items from Etsy or Amazon Store (Please contact me if you do not get the response with your order number. I will remember you better.)

 

Regardless of this priority, I will answer every question eventually. If you do not get the answers from me in a month, please contact me. There is a possibility that I am too busy to come back to the question.

 

Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials: Your support will be very much appreciated.

 

Sashiko was very ordinal to the ordinary Japanese people.

Over the Japanese economic growth after the War, those ordinary people stopped doing Sashiko. It was not economically smart to keep practicing Sashiko.

My goal is to keep Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials and Database so people in 10 years from now, even 100 years from now can enjoy the Sashiko technique and its culture. In order to keep Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials available, your support would be very much appreciated.

 

As of 2018, I can operate this mission largely depending on my wife’s support.

I can offer great Sashiko workshop because of my friends’ help, who provide me the place and possible business.

 

When you sympathize what I am trying to do, please consider to support me through Patreon. It is a community (funding website) to support artists. You can support me from $1.00 per month and it will help me to work on more and more.

https://www.patreon.com/sashiko

 

Any interest in Sashiko will support me and Japanese culture

I set the price of Sashiko thread, supplies and everything else so everyone in the process of production can make some benefit. I respect those who try to protect Japanese traditional crafting, so many of our materials are expensive in comparison to the competitor.

In other words, any kinds of interest in Sashiko, which lead you to purcase an item from me, will support me and the people I respect.

 

I believe my pricing is competitive.

However, you may find it expensive in comparison. When you feel it is too expensive, please try to read what we try to do with “hand.” We do not have any assembly line. No machines are doing our works. Regardless, I believe it is fairly reasonable. $13.00 for 145-meter Sashiko thread. You may find $3.00 ~ $4.00 Sashiko thread, but its length is probably about 40 meter.

To make Sashiko somewhat profitable.

I have no idea how to do it… to make Sashiko profitable enough to support one’s life.

Again, I can support my life only because my wife works full-time in other job. If I would need to support my family, then Sashiko wouldn’t be the first choice.

 

However… a great friend of mine who is in a business school (teaching) told me that:

In order to protect the industry such as Sashiko and any other hand-crafting culture, it is crucial to make the craft profitable. When the people learn the crafting can be profitable, then they will start investing more time and money to make it sustainable… I would need to learn about this theory, but this will be my next challenge to make Sashiko profitable.

 

I do not wholesale our products for online store owner. I do wholesale our thread to someone who resonates my belief in Sashiko & have a storefront to communicate to their customers.

 

If you are an artist who would like to be part of this “my next adventure: making Sashiko profitable | which equals to be the Sashiko Artist who lives on doing Sashiko” please let me know. I would like to support you as well so we can make “it (Sustainable Sashiko Tutorials and Database)” happen together.

 

mindful Sashiko Importance of ordinary day

Importance of ordinary day | Mindful Sashiko

It has been a long time since my last post, which was about Sashiko Workshop Weekend in NYC. It means it has been a long time since I had done Mindful Sashiko. Although I hoped to update our Sashiko works, review of great Sashiko workshops and coming up projects, I got sick right after the workshop, then my daughter caught the flu, then, of course, I received it from her.

 

Importance of healthy ordinary day.

 

My primal job is to be a homemaker in my household.

While my wife goes to work, I prepare the house so everyone can have the healthy and comfortable life. As much as I would like to devote my entire life to Sashiko, putting family first is something I promised to my father (who passed away in 2013.) It is very uncommon for a man to be a (semi) stay-at-home father, and put family first more than his work. I respect all of the homemakers who try their best to keep a household comfortable. It isn’t an easy job as it sounds, especially when a member of the family is sick, it is very hard to see him/her suffer.

 

Every time I face to the difficulty in terms of health, I realize that I have forgotten how important it is to have a good health.

I decided my life to be a supporter of my daughter, my wife, and my mother: 3 generations of my princesses. It is my ordinary day, and the health is very important for appreciating these ordinary days.

 

 

Find yourself. Recommending Mindful Sashiko.

 

Today was the first day I could have the needle in a while.

I find myself appreciating what I have by making every stitch. I realize myself enjoying mindfulness. In my understanding, there is no such a thing as “Mindful Sashiko” since Sashiko itself is already mindful. Hold the needle (like a Budha posture), and then make stitching with only focusing to make the even stitches. The time becomes peaceful and you will find yourself in meditation mode.

 

Mindful Sashiko Thread

 

Enjoying beautiful color of thread.

Feeling comfortable by touching the good weight, nice soft cotton fabric.

If you are lucky, you may smell the scent of Natural Dye.

 

The core concept of Sashiko: Mottainai (Too good to waste) will bring you the idea of appreciating what you have. It is not only an appreciation for what you have in form of materials but also the appreciation to what we have in the daily basis, family, friends, and society.

My goal is to share the concept of this beautiful life by introducing what Sashiko is.

 

 

 

More projects are coming up. I will keep you updated.

 

Online Sashiko Workshops.

More Natural Dye Sashiko Thread.

Japan-made beautiful Fabrics.

 

I have many projects in my mind to share and introduce. Keep you updated by subscribing the newsletter or RSS Feeds.

 

 

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.