Hello. My name is Atsushi Futatsuya. In the USA, I often introduce myself “Azu” as my nickname. It is an honor to share what Sashiko is based on my life-long experience.
Meet Atsushi Futatsuya on Youtube
It is much easier to know who I am by watching me talking. Please check what I would like to share about Sashiko on the Youtube Channel.
Atsushi Futatsuya offered Sashiko Workshop mainly in East Coast of the USA, NYC and Brooklyn Aream before Covid. (Atsushi lives in Central PA – Zip 17837, 4 hours driving from NYC). In order to learn Sashiko from him, attending a in-person workshop is the best way. Alternatively, the Online Sashiko Class is available for those who wish to learn without traveling.
Sashiko Workshop Update in Covid-19
Under the pandemic of Covid-19, in order to secure everyone’s safety, all of the In-person Sashiko Workshop has been cancelled for 2020. Instead, I had spend as much effort as possible for developing the better Online Sashiko Class. After sharing the Online Sashiko Class with more than 50 students (who are now my friends), I believe I can deliver the same contents via Online. Please check our Online Sashiko Class.
Let me please introduce myself to share why I am running this website to share what Japanese Sashiko is.
I was born in Sashiko Family
Did you have a “planned future” in your childhood, 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.
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.
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 my mother enjoys her projects more and more. She provides beautiful Sashiko fabric to a fashion brand, she repairs the most beautiful vintage fabrics for a fashion designer as “To-Be-Boro”, and she makes great Sashiko pieces 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. Again, Hello world. This is Atsushi Futatsuya. I am a Sashiko Artisan and Curator of Sashiko Story.
Support Atsushi & Keiko’s Activity
In 2019, I learned that there is a platform to support the artisans/story-teller. It is called “Patreon”. We made a platform mainly to support Keiko, and I share many Sashiko stories on there (As of November 2020, I have about 100 stories to read). Those stories are not about “How-to do Sashiko”, but more like “What is Sashiko in the Japanese culture”. I have many more stories to share to the world. Your suppport is very much appreciate for us to continue our activity.