Why Do You call it Sashiko?

Thank you very much for reading our website & Instagram (FB) posts. I really would like to ask for your help here. With encountering one discussion on Facebook, I am confused about what I am doing (saying & writing). It leads to the fundamental question, why do you (they) call it Sashiko? Is my English is so bad that I need to re-start learning how to write?

If this confusion is the matter of me writing too much (or in bad English), and encouraging them (the people who replied) not reading what I wrote, I can understand that. However, if it is actually me that creating confusion – contradicting with each other between what I write & what I say (do), then it is a big problem. Your help would be very much appreciated to share your insights. 

No intention to offend someone particularly.

It is NOT my intention to offend or disrespect anyone. It is the first goal. I am simply so confused. Again, since it isn’t my intention to create the further argument, if possible, please share your comment here or on where you are from (Instagram or my Facebook Page), not in the Facebook page that I will refer to with actual comments.

To follow what is going on, you can check the FB group of “Sashiko” and find the thread started “May 12 at 12:49 AM“. That’s the pretty much only one thread I left the comment, so you should find me (Atsushi Futatsuya) writing a long reply to the conversation starter. I will try to copy and paste as much as I can.

Why Do you call it Sashiko?

In my fundamental understanding of Sashiko trend in non-Japanese regions, they are interested in “Japanese Sashiko”, right? I mean, they use the Japanese word of “Sashiko (刺し子)” so they are trying to learn the Japanese Sashiko. If they are trying to learn the Japanese Sashiko, it is safe to assume that they are interested in the Japanese culture… right?

Otherwise, why do they call it Sashiko?

For those who do not wish to visit Facebook, I try to explain the situation as “objectify” as possible here. After all of the long, many proof-read comments, a person stated that I am NOT generous to share the knowledge. On the other hands, on Instagram, numbers of people show their appreciation that I am generous to share the Sashiko we practice. My confusion is here. What did I miss on the discussion thread? Is it my English? Or, is it (again) that the people will only read & understand only what they want to read & understand…? Please, please help me out here. Since I can “subjectively” look at what I wrote & what I uploaded on Youtube, I cannot find the remedy to this confusion.

On facebook group(s), I come across a lady who asks many questions. As I had replied to her later on, it is okay to ask questions. However, I wanted to share that, in courtesy of Japan, the main principle to be polite is “to avoid troubling the others”. Therefore, the questions should be well-thought and well-researched, as much as their capacity. Also, the person mentioned my stitch as “precise”. As you know, the result of “precise” is NOT the message in the Sashiko I would like to share. She had contacted me directly twice before this Facebook discussion so she should know that I exist & offer a lot of information, yet she didn’t come to understand the most repeated message…? Therefore, after considering thoroughly, I left the message below.

I am sorry to mention this, but I think you need to “practice” before asking questions around. I received 2 messages from you. I see your questions all over the several groups. In my understanding, “Sashiko” can be only learned by practice. Someone with a lot of experience like Sashi.Co or _________ can do the Sashiko which you are looking for. It is getting a bit frustrating (for me) because I felt you are expecting to complete the Sashiko by asking. You need to move your hands and learn from the practice.

There is information to avoid unnecessary detours. The workshops. The books. Videos Online. We try out best to provide them, too. Read Susan’s book carefully over and over again. Watch Sashi.Co videos carefully (although we do not teach specifically like the workshop, there are people who learned a lot & very good at Sashiko now), or take workshops with someone experienced. You need to invest either “time” or “money” to get what you are asking.

Sashiko is well-known as a craft. It may seem to be “a quick hobby to learn”. I am not 100% sure how Sashiko is treated in non-Japanese culture. In my understanding, however, Sashiko is more than a hobby. Since it is more than a hobby, I just wanted to share that, asking the numbers of questions before looking into the information already available can be considered somewhat “rude” in Japanese culture.
I am only saying this because you are trying to learn Sashiko – the Japanese culture. As I keep mentioning in my account, Sashiko is more than “stitching” – which include the appropriate manners of the Japanese culture.

Learn by practice. Steal the technique & wisdom instead of asking. That’s how Japanese mastery developed over time.

The people in this group are very nice. I enjoy the questions and answers here a lot. I learn from the Q&A as well.

However, I couldn’t stop myself to point out this concern from my Japanese cultural perspective. It is not my intention to offend you. I really would like to share the “Sashiko” as the Japanese culture, more than stitching, and would like you to learn it – if you call what you do as “Sashiko”.
To admin: I thought of writing this quite long & decided to do so to advocate the Sashiko we respect. Please delete it if you think it is not appropriate to this group.

Then the lady replied, “It may be more accurate to refer to what I’m trying to do as embroidery.

Well. If so, I have nothing to say more. If she thinks what she does will be categorized non-Sashiko embroidery, my sincere favor to understand the Japanese culture wouldn’t be necessary. My question, “Why Do you call it Sashiko?” will be invalid because she thinks it may not be it.

I thought it was the end of the story. Then, another person shared her question that what I write contradicts. Her comments cited as is below.

I am truly confused. You ask people to learn about Sashiko & the “appropriate manners of the Japanese culture”, but you are not welcoming to her questions. It seems both ideas are in conflict with each other. How is she expected to learn all aspects, without asking questions to the masters?

I understand her confusion, especially in current result oriented society, the answer (to be provided) is very important. So, I try to explain the Japanese culture & manners in asking questions as much as possible. It is quite long. However, I didn’t want to be silent here because “The silence” could alter the culture itself (at least I thought).

Here is a copy of my reply.

I believe 2 ideas are not conflicting with each other. I will explain why.

First of all, I do not intend to discourage the questions in this group. This is a fantastic group to share ideas and questions. I learn a lot by reading questions and answers. Q&A here motivates me to keep uploading more videos and information.

Above said, I will explain (1) about “Japanese Sashiko & Courtesy of Japan” and (2) why I pointed out on this thread. Although it is a quite long reply already, I hope you will read through.

1 – Japanese Sashiko & Courtesy of Japan

Learning Sashiko (indirectly or directly) equals to the understanding (at least respecting & trying to understand) the Japanese culture. One of the significances of Japanese culture would be a unique courtesy. Since I believe Sashiko is more than just stitching technique, I want to share the cultural perspective of Japanese Sashiko. Otherwise, what is the point of calling it “Sashiko”?

One of the main principles of the Japanese courtesy is “Avoid troubling the others”. Asking questions is perfectly fine, but the question needs to be well-thought and well-researched. “Not-knowing” is NOT the problem. Asking questions is NOT the concern. “Taking someone’s time ‘more than necessary’” is the point I tried to share in the previous post. Also, some reasonable appreciation to the one who spent time to answer the questions would be very important.

By the way, in some craftsmanship, “asking questions expecting to get answers” is already considered as “rude”. Well, we (as the Japanese) won’t contradict to you because “contradicting” isn’t in our culture already, but you will be “out-pictured” even if you would like to get the answers from the master. The master will be smiling and the student will get nothing unless they follow the courtesy. The Sashiko I am from is also like that. However, over the Internet where anyone can say anything, it is more valuable to speak up & I made up my mind to “share” the Sashiko we enjoy & practice, which includes the Japanese culture.

I welcome the questions when the question is well-prepared. Of course, I do not expect “everyone” to know me. Therefore, I usually just read through and try to learn from the Q&A, and never pointed out someone’s questions like this before. I share Sashiko so people can learn & I welcome the well-thought questions.

Here is the reason why I pointed out _____’s question regardless of my “welcoming questions” attitude.

1 – She has contacted me twice (and I replied that I do not answer the technical questions because my capacity is limited – I am only available for the workshop graduates for now.) It means she knows that I exist & share A LOT of information on my website, Instagram & FB, and Youtube (I know it isn’t well-organized, but some – many of the answers are available already there).

Then, (I wouldn’t & didn’t point out her comments UNTIL) I saw her one sentence, “He (Sashi.Co) is SO precise”

This sentence is the second reason.

The core message of the Sashiko we practice is, “Sashiko isn’t about making one perfect (precise) stitch. It is about appreciating the fabric & care for others.” By “practicing Sashiko”, by moving the needle (making dialogues to the fabric), then we can fully enjoy Sashiko & its side of mindful stitching. This message is very important to me since it contains so many messages, and it is everywhere on my website & SNS. It made me very sad that I couldn’t communicate to her what Sashiko really can be… so I wrote the comment after thinking thoroughly.

I do not expect everyone to follow the Japanese mastery of “steal the technique by looking and never ask questions”. However, a bit of time to read someone’s wisdom would be the “care” we can do in “result-oriented society”. There are many great books in English, videos, and information out there to find the wisdom (& technique) of Sashiko. I hope the comment wasn’t the form of offending her of asking the questions. I wanted to “educate” her that, ONLY BECAUSE she is interested in Japanese Sashiko, her action may cause unnecessary issues somewhere.

Lastly, I am sorry for naming _____ in my comment. ______ isn’t the only one… in fact, I receive so MANY messages without even “hello” and the same types of questions. To be honest, I am pretty tired of sharing the information to those who wouldn’t show the respect to the Japanese culture (courtesy), Only reason I haven’t stopped is that I feel it isn’t fair to ask someone to understand one culture without us (the Japanese) explaining it. I am now writing how Japanese culture, courtesy of Japan, and Sashiko relates to each other. I hope anyone who is reading my comment this far can check my updates on FB or IG to understand the bigger picture of Sashiko.

As _____ says, if the person thinks “It may be more accurate to refer to what I’m trying to do as embroidery”, I have no problem or frustration. There is nothing to say because I value her/his philosophy and cultural perspective.

In that case, however, one question arises… Why do you call what you do, “Sashiko”?


Again to Admin (or anyone else). Please let me know if this comment is offending someone. It isn’t my intention at all. I have never thought of leaving this kind of comment before, even when the discussion is heated like “what is Sashiko and what is not”. In spite of my strong hopes in Sashiko based on more than 30 years of experience, I believe everyone can have their own Sashiko – after all, Sashiko was an ordinary practice that the ordinary Japanese practiced – there are no rules in Sashiko. I couldn’t, however, to let this go because it is very fundamental of the Sashiko I would like to pass down to the next generation – and share everyone here. If I remain silent, I thought my silence could create “another standard” – which will be an obstacle to learn Japanese Sashiko or bizarre feeling to call your work  “Sashiko”

Thank you for reading this such a long comment. Although I wanted to make it shorter (& I did make it shorter a lot), I still feel a lot of concepts are missing here.

Anyway, as far as my understanding (of English) goes, the comment I made is not asking for the argument… is it? After this long reply I made, I received some of the comments & angry faces from others.

A few examples would be…

Your logic makes me think of this question. Are only experienced & educated chefs allowed in the kitchens? Is a mother not allowed to prepare a simple meal for her family?

Well, did I mentioned that the only experienced & master are allowed to do Sashiko… in this reply? Did I write that? I even say I welcome the question – the one well-prepared. She understood my logic completely opposite. My reply to her is below.

Any mother can prepare a simple meal (or a great meal) for her family. So is (was) Sashiko. Anyone can do Sashiko stitching for anyone.

However, when the mother is preparing a simple “Japanese food” for her family with explaining this is Japanese food, I want her to share the Japanese culture & its tradition as much as possible, especially if the mother has resources to learn.

My point is not being a master or not. It is about the “appreciation” to the culture you are about to learn. Again, if you do not call it Sashiko, I have no problem. I just don’t know why you call it Sashiko without the will to learn Japanese culture. The culture can be changed so easily so I couldn’t be silent.

Then, the discussion leads to the statement that there are other Sashiko teachers more generous than I am. Well, probably. However, this sentence indicates that I am NOT generous… seriously?

What am I missing here?

I sincerely believe that the comments (replies) I made above are the same as what I usually say on Instagram, my facebook page, and on Youtube. I re-read my comments so many times that I cannot find any “missing link” to be a remedy for my confusion.

I do not want to use this excuse, but “English” is my second language. So, it could cause the misunderstanding and results in the contradiction (which makes me pretty sad for that matter…). If it is a case that “Atsushi’s writing is too long so that they got only what they wanted to get”, then it is fine. I understand that everyone has the different value.

Culture can be transformed easily over Internet

There is a reason (motivation) that I started speaking up online – offering tutorials, information, wisdom, and pretty much everything I do (an unedited version of stitching) for free.

I am afraid of the possibility of “Culture transformation without us realizing it.” Over the Internet & Social Networking, the quick & easy (flash) solution gets more value. Google & Alexa will answer any kinds of questions when you ask. We barely doubt that the answer Alexa speaks to you is culturally appropriated (appreciated) or not. Once it is shared, then it becomes the culture.

The Japanese is so bad at “debating” to defend its original form. In some cases, we accept the change and try to protect it within the Japanese (with sometimes labeling the non-Japanese culture as “fake”). The inability to debate is strongly related to the Japanese first history book – Kojiki (written in 712) and related Japanese myth. I am in process of explaining the whole picture of Japanese spirituality and hand-crafting… yet it is so much to share.

I could have remain silence in this case. However, my goal is to share the Sashiko we practice to the world – which is more than stitching – so I decided to step up. I do not want to change the Sashiko culture. It is a pride and dignity as the one who decided to live with Sashiko.

Again, my goal is not to determine which is right or wrong. If they do not agree with what I wrote, that’s perfectly fine. They can find their own “Sashiko” and I am happy with that. I am not THAT kind person & I am perfectly okay with being misunderstood.

HOWEVER, if my writing can cause the confusion for those who have been reading my website & Instagram (&FB) posts, then I CARE. I need to re-write them & apologize for making confusion.

Please, please let me know if you find any mistakes I made in the above replies. I would like to continue this journey of sharing Sashiko, and your help to improve my “expression technique in English” would be very much needed.

Thank you very much for your time to read this much.


Atsushi Futatsuya