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.

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.

 

Atsushi Futatsuya

Atsushi Futatsuya | Sashiko Artist & Curator

Hello, World. My name is Atsushi Futatsuya. In the USA, I often introduce myself “Azu” as my nickname. Let me please introduce myself to share why I am running this website.

 

I was born in Sashiko Family

Did you have a “planned future” that your family kept mentioning?

I was born in a surviving Sashiko Family in Gifu prefecture, Japan. In my childhood, my friends were Sashiko artisans who worked in our family business. There was a pile of fabric, scary numbers of needles and thimbles, and so many colored threads. I strongly remember many people told me that I will take over the business when I get older. It was the Japanese tradition for the first-born child to take over the family business, especially in the traditional crafting family.

 

And, of course, I hated my fate.

Regardless of my Sashiko techniques I naturally learned, I purely didn’t want to be in the Sashiko business in my adolescence. It wasn’t easy to get out of the rails many people prepared, so I decided to get out from the country. I decided to go to the university in the States. 

 

Atsushi Futatsuya in Collage

Sashiko Business to Sashiko life-style

After I had graduated from the university, I started working in Tokyo. I still didn’t want to take over Sashiko business. My parents were still 50’s, and I thought I could avoid a serious conversation about who would be responsible to the family business later on.

However, in 2008, my father called me if I could help him to run the business. The business went into a bad debt, and they could use some help from financial aspects.  After deep consideration, I decided to go back to the family business mentioning that I am only doing so to  “help,” not “take over.”

Sashiko as Business is very difficult to operate

After I spend some weeks checking the financial sheets, I realize that the Sashiko as a business could be very difficult to operate. In Sashiko, almost everything is hand-made. The keywords for business models of ordinary manufacture industry such as productivity, cost reduction planning, just-in-time system, and a lot more didn’t apply. I tried to understand the reason of debt. After all, recalculating all the possible cost, even if they are all done by hand and unique by one, helped to figure the “right” price. After two years of looking Sashiko with numbers, the company could avoid the bankruptcy. However, I couldn’t see the future. I didn’t find the possibility of growth.

 

Share what we are proud of

In 2010, I changed my mindset. Instead of focusing on growth, I started planning on “soft landing” of the business. It is almost impossible to make a fortune of money. However, I thought, it may be possible to “soft-land” the business so everyone can avoid the miserable bankruptcy. At that point, my mind shifted from numbers to what Sashiko actually is. I realize the beauty of Sashiko. It is the time I start trying to repair my denim jeans.

 

Around this time, I started introducing Sashiko in English. Then, I had opportunities to perform workshops in the Netherlands.

 

Atsushi Futatsuya Workshop in Netherlands

 

Why am I doing this?

As much as I enjoyed introducing Sashiko, the beautiful culture we were proud of, I started to wonder if why I was doing this besides the fact I was born in the family. I couldn’t find the purpose of sharing Sashiko, especially after I realize that Sashiko as a business may discontinue after elderly artisans stopped working for us. I coulnd’t reason myself to continue Sashiko business with sacrifice my days in 20’s.

 

Then, the Tohoku Earthquake occurred in 2011.

By supporting Tohoku throughout Sashiko, I realize the meaning of continuing Sashiko culture, to pass down the culture to the next generation.

 

 

After my father had passed away

In 2013, on October, my father had passed away unexpectedly.

Although my mind wasn’t ready to take over the business without my father, I had a determination that I was the one to take over his will to the company. I didn’t hate the fate I had as Sashiko Business Manager.

 

Long story short, life is full of dramas, my mother and I were fired by the new stakeholders who found out that the company had some cash. We knew the reason for this inhuman action. My mother and I were troublesome to deal with. We didn’t care about the short-term profit. We focused on how to continue the culture in form of a business entity. In 2013, I lost the identity as Atsushi Futatsuya as Sashiko business manager.

 

 

Upcycle & Sashiko Culture as Atsushi Futatsuya

After the unbelievable moment that our life changed, I decided to move to the United States. It was just too painful to stay in Japan. I told my mother that she could come with me, but she decided to stay in Japan. She had many friends, her precious dog, and my brother who just jumped into the society. She couldn’t just leave things behind. As much as I worried about her, we decided to start our new life without Sashiko.

Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya started in 2015

About June in 2014, my mother called me with a serious voice, saying “I would like to do Sashiko…”

She loves Sashiko. She couldn’t live without it. She could enjoy just stitching, but she also wanted to make big pieces and entertain people who love Sashiko. She asked me if I could help her to make her Sashiko as a business again. Although I was expecting to be a stay at home dad in the coming year, I agreed to help her to be Sashiko business owner. Then, she started the project called, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya ~ Designing a life with Sashiko ~ with many helps around her.

 

What can I do as Atsushi Futatsuya?

Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is getting bigger and bigger, and my mother enjoys her projects more and more. She provides beautiful Sashiko fabric to a fashion brand, she repairs the most beautiful Boros for a fashion designer, and she makes great Sashiko arts with her friends. Her income itself isn’t enough to support her days yet, but her enjoyment is what I value the most.

 

In 2017, I established a company called Upcycle Stitches LLC. This website is the company’s website.

I host Sashiko workshops. I provide Sashiko supplies and materials with sharing Sashiko techniques and skills. Based on my experience, it is my time to think what I can do as Atsushi Futatsuya, not as the 3rd generation of Sashiko business family.

 

It is our new journey to embrace Sashiko. My mission is to share what Sashiko is, to the world.

 

Hello, world. This is Atsushi Futatsuya. I am a Sashiko Artist and Curator of Sashiko Art.