I have been sharing a lot of Sashiko stories (history, traditions, culture, and wisdom of Sashiko) on Instagram and Facebook. It was my pleasure to share what we are proud of and receiving many comments with respects. However, from time to time, I received some thoughtless comments that bothered me very much. 99% of the comments were encouraging, so I probably should ignore the haters… However, by nature of the core message of Sashiko we practice, I couldn’t ignore the uncomfortable comments. I wish I could help them understand why we share the Sashiko (although they did not even read what I wanted to share). After long consideration, I decided to move our platform to Sashiko Patreon Page. There, I will only share the stories with the supporters. It is not the best outcome to ask for the fee $5.00 / per month and up), I couldn’t think of other ways to filter those “thoughtless” people that I encounter. I would rather continue this journey of Sashiko Sashiko rather than completely cease spending my time on that. Here, this is a favor to ask to join the Sashiko Patreon Community to share the beautiful photos and stories about Sashiko. Also, I explain how to use the Patreon Page more efficiently to share the Sashiko we practice.
To read the Sashiko Journey on Sashiko Patreon
Most of the contents I make on the Sashiko Patreon page will be available for those who became the patron for our Sashiko activities. Once you become a patron, please enjoy our posts as Sashiko Journey and other announcements.
I named the “story sharing” I had been enjoying on IG and FB to “Sashiko Journey”. After clicking the Post tab, please filter the posts by choosing the “Sashiko Journey” tag. You will see a list of the stories I share. Usually, the article complete as one article. No matter where you start reading, it should be enjoyable (although I recommend reading chronologically). When I would like to share the story over several articles, I will mention “To be Continued” or “Continued” on each article.
Announcement of what we do
Besides the Sashiko Journey, I plan to share the useful information on what we do. Most of the core information is already on our website & previous posts. However, it is challenging to find the one you would like to know since the amount of writing I made is quite huge. I will optimize the information so you will enjoy what we write easily.
I sincerely appreciate the patrons. They are the one who actually took action. So, I would like to provide the priority and privilege in that Patreon community as well.
Why Patreon. Why Fee?
When I started sharing the stories about Sashiko on IG and FB, I did not expect that much return to what I did. I simply wanted to share the Sashiko we practice, the Sashiko we are proud of. It is not my best interest to ask for the fee.
However, over time, I received many “same” questions and similar thoughtless comments from the audience. I confirmed the similarity in those contacted me without thinking through. They did not read what I wrote – and asked for the quick solution or answer.
By setting the fee, I thought I could filter those who want to get a “quick” answer. If their interest is shallow, they wouldn’t spend money on reading what I share. That was the only filter I could think of to protect myself.
Also, with receiving the fee, I can be more attentive to answer the questions and requests, which I had been doing with fun on IG and FB. I will no longer answer the questions on IG and FB (unless it is a very thoughtful question). On Patreon page, I will answer pretty much all the questions about Sashiko (only cultural, historical and spiritual part of Sashiko – Please take the Sashiko workshop for the technical questions).
I sincerely appreciate your support on Patreon. I enjoy sharing what I have accumulated over 10 years, or 25 years including the childhood I was wondering in a Sashiko family environment. It seems I have unlimited words in my brain to share. The more I write, the more I would like to share. I try my best to keep sharing the quality information there.
The core of Sashiko exists in practicing (actual stitching). However, sharing the words would be so much embracing who we really are.
In 2019, I experienced the steep increase of inquiries asking me to write my insight, opinion, or understanding of Sashiko in the form of the contribution to an article to magazines, brochures, and books. As much as I would like to be their help, I have very limited capacity in 2019. So here is the policy for Sashiko Contribution that I can offer.
Sashiko Contribution for Academic Purpose
If you would like to have my writing for your research in the academic organization such as a university, please contact me with your academic background, the name of the institution, and possibly the thesis statement for your research.
I am happy to contribute to the development of Sashiko in the academic setting. The Sashiko contribution will be free of charge, and I will do my best to share what I have.
Although it is free of charge to write, it would be very much appreciated if you could take the workshop Atsushi offers (In-person and/or Online).
Sashiko Contribution for Commercial Purpose
If you would like to have my writing for the commercial purpose, such as publishing a book, a brochure for your organization (including the one with Non-Profit Organization), and your business, I will ask for the fee based on your requests and the purpose for the writing. When you contact me, please offer the fee you are thinking of. I will consider your inquiry attentively and get back to you. If you are not willing to pay for my writing yet would like to have them on your media, please try to follow the basic procedure below.
Please do not handle this lightly. A page of me writing about Sashiko may sound an easy job. However, if I am the one who writes, there will be a responsibility to what I write.
I am not a professional writer. English is my second language. However (therefore), I have to be very careful in writing what I would like to communicate. I cannot just write up without careful.
Free Sashiko Contribution?
I no longer accept the Probono work. I learned that people will handle the “free stuff” very lightly and less mindfully.
However, I also understand that it is unusual to pay compensation for just simply writing. So, here is my boundary. Please follow the list below, and I will be happy to be part of your work.
provide me a few copies of publications when it is in the market
For the Probono (No fee) work, please understand that the writing itself is my property, and you will just use them as the reference on your book.
Other than Sashiko Contribution
For non-native English amateur writer like me, “Writing (leaving the solid documents)” on something deeply related to Japanese culture is very challenging and scary. There is a huge risk of misunderstanding when I do not write the paragraph attentively and carefully.
The fee is for my time to be careful and thorough to what I write. If it is a matter of you writing based on what I write (Interpretation of what I have written), then I wouldn’t ask for the fee. Again, I am not a professional writer.
In those cases, please kindly inform me that you are referring my writing (when, where and about what). Please apply the appropriate citation standard as well. I will give you permission to use as the reference, but I will not give up the copyright.
Interview as the Alternative
Phone or Video-chat interview would be a good alternative to save the fee. Although at this point, I am not sure if I should do the interview for free of charge, I would like to see how it goes. Since it will be my merely talking about Sashiko, and you summarizing what I say as your interpretation, then I wouldn’t probably need that much return in this process.
If you are interested in interviewing me, please provide the list of information below.
The media that you would use the interview on.
The list of question in advance to the actual interview
Why you would like to have my comments on your media.
I had been sharing many stories about the Sashiko we practice on Instagram with many photos. With some unfortunate events, I decided to stop writing so many contents on Instagram – where anyone can see and say what they want out of their mind. Instead, I will keep the journey of sharing the Sashiko insights on the Patreon, where I ask a monthly contribution so I can spend a good amount of time to share & discuss if there is any conflict.
When you are interested in the Sashiko we practice to the level of asking me to write about the Sashiko we practice, it would be so much helpful to be a supporter and read through what I have been sharing first.
I am a human after all. As much as I respect the policy I implemented here, I have a preference in who I will be working together. When you ask me questions indicating you have not read my words mindfully before, then I will be discouraged to work with you. When I can tell you read and respect what I write, then I will be happy to work with. I may accept the offer even without the fee and specific purpose on the media.
I believe what I am asking here is reasonable. When you ask for someone to spend their time, you would either need to compensate for their time, or you spend the same amount of time in knowing who you are asking for.
Thank you very much for your understanding. Enjoy Sashiko Stitching and also reading my writing on Patreon. Remember, though. The truth exists in practice (stitching).
Cultural Appropriation can be very hurtful when it is done intentionally. Although it is not less painful to see the Cultural Appropriation regardless of the situations, when it is done unintentionally, we can consider it as a good opportunity to learn each other. We all make a mistake. It is very important to accept the difference. When a person crosses the boundary of cultural appropriation unintentionally, a simple apology would be just enough. It is a good opportunity to have a cultural mutual understanding. In order to promote good cultural mutual understanding in Japanese culture, I would like to introduce the concept of High and Low Context Culture, which lead to a topic of Super High Context Sashiko Culture.
Crossing the boundary in Cultural Appropriation intentionally, knowing that could hurt the origin, would be unacceptable. However, occasionally, I observe the 2 groups stay on the different page although they both try to mean good. They hurt each other with hoping to understand each other. It is not a matter of intention. There gotta be some situation behind the communication itself. The answer can be the concept of High and Low Context Culture described by Edward T. Hall, 1976, “Beyond Culture”
Here, this is my assumption (with learning High Context Culture) for the unfortunate discussion regarding the Cultural Appropriation in Japanese culture. It may be very much affected how the Japanese language is structured. Again, I will always stand up for the Cultural Appropriation with intention of hurting and/or repainting the culture. Minimizing the culture and repainting the origin will insult the people who live in the Japanese culture. At the same time, it is our Japanese responsibility to consider why it happens -if one means good, then it may be because of the language difference.
Reading between the lines of sentences.
Japanese is the language to expect an ability to read between the lines of conversations. Edward T. Hall once described this as the “High Text Culture (Language)” in his book “Beyond Culture” published in 1976.
Here is a bit more detail. Surprisingly for English speakers, the Japanese language sometimes doesn’t require the subject and object in the sentence. Here is an example.
Let’s say you and I are enjoying a road trip. We talked about where to go but we do not have GPS on. When you want to ask me if we will get to the destination soon or not, you would say, “Are WE gonna get to the _____(destination) soon?”.
In the Japanese language, in the same situation, you would just say “Soon, (We) get there, right? – もうすぐ着くよね？”
In this example, the word “We” is omitted because it is already assumed mutually. We expect others to anticipate what the one is saying.
This can get to the extreme when the relationship is close (like family or close friend). A Japanese may say, “Soon Arrive? – すぐ着く？”. It is not about being polite or not. We omit the words that are considered as a mutual assumption. Of course, it is not the polite language we also have. However, this is the matter of mutual understanding we expect in between. The more amount of information we expect to share, the fewer words are needed.
English as the ultimate tool to communicate.
*I am not an expert in linguistics. Please forgive my misunderstanding if you find any. I am more than happy to consider re-writing.
In contrast, English is very well-optimized for the purpose of communication. Telling, “who does what, when, where and how (which)” is the fundamental of English. Even within a close family, we naturally use the subjects, and rarely omit it to avoid misunderstanding.
English is the language with adapting so many difference in the history of immigration and globalization. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it has to be clear about what we are communicating. On the other hands, the Japanese languages were (are) mainly spoken by Japanese. We communicate based on the fact that the conversation partners know the language and culture of Japan.
It is too much to ask non-Japanese people to understand the Japanese language and the logic behind it. However, I believe, it is reasonable to ask everyone to appreciate the Japanese language when they are willing to learn the Japanese culture.
This perspective – High and Low context – is another perspective why it is so difficult for Japanese to learn English, and the English speaker to learn Japanese.
Importance of Assumption (Premise)
When we learn about the new culture, it is very important not only learn the practice itself, but also the mindset behind it. The mindset often involves the assumption (premise). When the premise is not mutually agreed, the discussion can go very painful for both parties.
In Japanese, as the language difference I introduced above, we expect all of the parties to anticipate the premise mutually without verbalizing it. For example, when I see someone who would like to learn Sashiko or enjoying Sashiko stitching, I naturally assume that the person is interested in the Japanese culture, and therefore, it is reasonable for me to expect that they “try” to respect the basic Japanese Courtesy.
I learned that it may not be the case all of the time. Some may be calling their stitching Sashiko without knowing it is from Japan. They may be calling only because of its image… Well, in that case, I hope they can find their own name for their stitching because Naming Does Matter as Ms.Makiko mentioned in her blog. (I will discuss this issue in the separate article).
High Context Sashiko
In fact, Sashiko requires even more “High” context for that matter. It is very challenging to find the documents that are describing the origin of Sashiko (or even practices of Sashiko in Japanese history.)
As a Sashiko artisan, I honestly expect others to anticipate to learn by watching instead of asking questions. The verbal discussion, like asking questions expecting for the answers, requires a lot of sentences. In contrast, in most Japanese traditions, the questions (and following answers) were not welcomed because a student was supposed to learn from the master by just watching it. The observation was the only method they could take back in Japan.
Expecting others to learn Sashiko by them just observing our Sashiko stitching is very inefficient. I understand that. In order to share the Sashiko we practice, I have established the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) both in-person and Online. I will answer any kinds of questions once you take the workshops.
*I wish I could do it to the general public, but because of limited capacity and that I also need to support the family, I restrict my support to who are willing to support my days & activities. For those who are financially challenging to take our workshop, please enjoy our Youtube Channel. If you are willing to learn by observing what we stitch, you can probably learn the Sashiko we practice. It may take 20x more time to understand, but possible, and again, I would like to share the Sashiko we practice to as many people as possible.
Our Sashiko Can communicate by themselves.
I believe that our Sashiko can communicate what is the importance of Sashiko and Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, even without explaining the High Context Sashiko character. We believe in the power of fabric, hand-stitching, and cares we perform on our Sashiko items.
When you enjoy the Sashiko with respecting the Japanese culture, you are already a part of High Context Sashiko. It isn’t difficult to at all to practice the High Context Sashiko. Simply, respect and care the others. When you care the others, we can all assume that we will be attentive to the boundaries. No more opinion and judgement – more empathy and cares.
I feel anxious. The fear of someone overwriting the word we sincerely value is beyond the words. Kim Kardashian, a famous celebrity, launched the shapewear (solution wear/underwear) brand naming Kimono. The trademark of “Kimono” for the underwear is now under examination in USPTO. We are reacting this ridicules issue with mentioning #KimOhNo. I want you to realize what is going on with this, KimOhNo.
I had several opportunities to learn about Cultural Appropriation. I shared my conclusion to the (painful) discussion, “Why Do You Call it Sashiko?”. I encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko when you “try” to respect the Japanese culture behind Sashiko Stitching you do. Cultural Appropriation is a very sensitive matter. I do not want to discourage the enjoyment people are celebrating. However, using the public domain of the Japanese word “Kimono” is the Cultural Appropriation I fear the most. In fact, I got angry with some of the people who left the previous discussion above (Why Do You Call it Sashiko?) because of similar reasons. It is “Intentional Ignorance.” Not knowing is not the issue. They can learn it and change their mind. Ignoring the petition (and request) to respect the culture, yet not taking the action or saying “over-reacting” is the fear I feel the most.
When it happens in a small group like here, then I can just un-welcome them. However, it is very fearful to see the famous celebrity with more than 100 million followers may change the image of Kimono to the underwear. Individualism is great. Freedom of expression (art) is respected. However, it is not okay to just observe how one can change the more than a thousand of history for her own publicity. Not cool at all.
So, I asked my family to give me a time on the holiday weekend to film the video. It took so many hours to make one small video clip. So it is just a small bite of my whole message. I will continue making the video and sharing it to the world. I still have hope for the world. We can change it by taking action. Thank you for your time to watch the video, and possibly, please sign the petition someone started on the Change.org.
KimOhNo – As a Sashiko Artisan
The Video Script of KimOhNo (1)
It is my hope to deliver the messages to as large population as possible. For some of the English speakers, my English may be difficult to understand. Also, I would like to share my thoughts with the people with hearing disability. Please find the script here for the Video (1) – # KimOhNO – Your care would protect the Japanese Kimono
Thank you for watching this video. My name is Atsushi. This may be the first time for you to find this channel. I am a Sashiko artisan – Sashiko is a form of hand stitching developed in Japan a long time ago. This is a video expressing my disappointment and even anger, to the Cultural Appropriation and Inappropriate naming for the shaping underwear brand – Kimono – by famous celebrity Kim Kardashian.
Many people express their anger for trademarking the underwear brand with the word Kimono. There is a petition in Change.Org and I hope you would spare some of your time to be part of this petition. On top of that, as the one who practices Sashiko, I would like to share why it is not cool to name one underwear brand “Kimono”. The goal of this video and videos I plan to upload regarding this issue in future is to motivate Kim to change the name of her brand by us sharing a part of the rich history of Kimono and Japanese culture. I hope, Kim and some of those who are excited about Kimono Underwear brand, would feel embarrassed by learning how Kimono is deeply rooted in who the Japanese are.
This is the edited version of my speech in the Sashiko Live Streaming on 6/28. Instead of chattering randomly, I will simplify my message to communicate better. This is my first time to express my own personal feeling in public. It is already out of my comfort zone, but I couldn’t be silent for this issue. Please do not misunderstand my phrasing. I will not be offended by you enjoying Kimono as Kimono. Calling the underwear brand Kimono for the publicity is the issue I am upset with.
First of all. It seems trademarking Kimono is her business strategy, the intentional attempt instead of innocent ignorance. When I first learned this issue, I thought it was because of innocent wording misusage. Kimono has, “Kim” in it. So it is somewhat understandable that she used the word Kimono. However, I changed my mind when I found out they intentionally delete all of the Instagram comments requesting to change the name with explaining this is very inappropriate.
If this is the intentional ignorance, it is an issue of overwriting the cultural word for one’s benefit. Kim intentionally ignores our concern and disrespect the Kimono culture. She says she respects the Kimono and Japanese culture. However, without action, it means nothing.
The word of Kimono (It means things to wear) established its meaning as “Japanese clothing” when the western clothing was introduced to Japan. To distinguish them, western clothing was called Yofuku, and the Japanese Clothing called Wafuku – and Kimono.
Not many Japanese wear Kimono in ordinary days anymore. However, we enjoy Kimono on a special occasion such as a wedding, celebration for the children’s growth, and Coming of age ceremony. We associate our precious memories to the clothing – Kimono. Japanese naturally accept the concept of Animism – the thing has its the spirit in it. So, Kimono is not just the name for the clothing. It is more than disposable, purpose-oriented, wear. It carries memory and spirit, therefore it could be our identity.
Although we do not wear Kimono every day, we try to pass down this culture to the next generation by wearing Kimono on those special occasions. Kimono often get pass down from a mother to a daughter and grand-daughter. For Japanese, Kimono is not a brand name. It is no-one’s property. It is our identity to respect who we are.
Therefore, the intentional ignorance to overwrite the wording Kimono for one’s business is not cool. I hope I can communicate her “horrible taste” in naming and motivate them to feel embarrassed for supporting her brand.
By the way, I understand that Kim and her surrounding do not represent western people. I sincerely appreciate those who support and encouraged me over youtube and Instagram.
The more people get interested in Japanese culture, the more non-Japanese dress up with Kimono. I believe it is a very beautiful thing. They respect the Japanese culture and Kimono, and they enjoy wearing it. I never thought that the non-Japanese enjoying Kimono is an issue of Cultural Appropriation. In fact, I appreciated it. However, naming the underwear brand Kimono, in which there is absolutely no connection or respect to Kimono culture, is not acceptable.
I will continue expressing my feeling on Youtube, with more stories and reasons that I had shared on the Live Streaming. Please leave the comment if there is anything I can cover explaining the KimOhNo Issue. I am just a father with a regular responsibility to support the family, so I may not be able to reply to your comments in a good timely manner – but I will do my best to follow-up and answer the questions.
Lastly, from a legal point, I would like to share why it is important for us to speak up now. I went to the USPTO database and confirmed the application filed by the company Kimono Intimates. USPTO has not assigned the trademark to the exclaimer, but there is a possibility. Therefore, before it gets too late, the voice from “ordinary yet important people like us” is important to change “rich celebrity” who thinks she can own everything. I trust and respect the United States. I live in the US to contribute to this country. I hope we can laugh about her ignorance later on, but it already happens, your voice means a lot to the Japanese today.
Well. This is a more personal note. I may be picking a fight now to Kim’s followers. I am not happy with Kim. But more honestly, I am so surprised and disgusted by those who keep supporting Kim by leaving the comment with excitement how the solution wear is good for them. It may be. I don’t know the quality of the product itself. However, after so many comments with asking to change the name and some articles in a major publication like NY times, some people are still happy with that? I know many people encouraged Japanese for this petition, but 100 million followers are all happy about this?
When did the world become so ignorant?
Now when we google the word Kimono, we can see “Kimono like” fashion. It is not preferable to see someone making money selling their item calling Kimono (or looking like Kimono) instead of traditional Kimono. However, Kim’s case is worse because her solution underwear will be the first image when we google the word Kimono when this trademark is accepted. Underwear instead of Kimono. Come on.
I would like to “Wow” the world with sharing more authentic photos.
It is our responsibility to share what Kimono really is.
The Japanese are not good at that, I am not good at that neither – especially those traditional fields are mainly operated by elderly people. They do not speak English. They follow the Japanese mindset that avoiding conflict. So do I. I am scared and embarrassed talking about my own feeling so much in public. However, I couldn’t be quiet, especially because I value what I do – Sashiko. I am not a Kimono professional. I do not make a living with Kimono. However, I do respect kimono throughout Sashiko culture. Please. Please respect the Japanese culture to protect its original form.