Atsushi’s Sashiko Preference as a Sashiko Artisan

I have several social media to share the Sashiko we have been practicing. Each social media has a theme & unique contents. Youtube – for sharing my real voice & actual practice. Instagram – to share the stories of the Sashiko we are proud of. Facebook Group – for asking to think together what the Japanese Sashiko for us. My messages are quite simple. One of them is “There is no such a thing as Right Sashiko and Wrong Sashiko”. Although there is no such a thing as right Sashiko, I have a strong preference in Sashiko, and I do care to protect the Japanese Sashiko from Cultural Appropriation. I received an inquiries asking to share Sashiko preference in my Sashiko life. So, here is Atsushi’s Sashiko preference as a Sashiko artisan.

*For Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, please read the article.


Sashiko Preference

Indigo Dye Thread on the Indigo Dyed Vintage Fabric (Authentic Indigo Dye) with running stitch. This is just beyond the words.

Sashiko is getting popular as a term to embrace several keywords in sustainability, such as “visible mending”, “slow-stitching” and “slow fashion”. As I have been sharing here and there, the core of Sashiko is not in those words.

The significant message I would like to advocate is that “the Boro (& Sashiko) is not a word for visible mending”.

So, as much as I am open-minded to the movement & cultural transition, there is a boundary of cultural appropriation, and I have a very specific preference in what “I” would like to call a piece “Sashiko” and “Boro”. Again, please read the article about the Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, first. I am perfectly fine for you to call your stitching “Sashiko” as long as you try to respect the Japanese culture. Here, this is just my Sashiko Preference as the Sashiko artisan.

Here is a bullet point list of my Sashiko preference. It will be interesting to compare based on the bullet-point number. For example of (3), I prefer “Our Sashiko” instead of “My Sashiko”.

Sashiko I like

  1. The Sashiko that I can feel the rhythm of. When a stitcher focuses on the stitching itself (process), he/she pays less attention to how the results should be. I like the Sashiko by stitcher just enjoying Sashiko. 
  2. Modest Invisible Mending (Mending is visible, but not showing off.
  3. The Sashiko with the sense of “Our Sashiko” that Sashiko with deep consideration to others, thoughtfulness, and stories, which may be categorized as “collectivism”.
  4. Geometric Patterns (because of their stories)
  5. The Sashiko come out of well thought questions with learning, before asking – and the result of Sashiko with well-understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
  6. The Sashiko with a sense of“Wabi-Sabi” & Japanese Courtesy.
  7. The Sashiko with full respect to the Japanese culture – which occasionally include some Japanese language (just trying).
  8. The Sashiko with Flow – running stitch.
  9. The Sashiko done by those who wonder if it is Sashiko or not (I am also one of those who wonder what is Sashiko to us)

Sashiko that I do not like so much

  1. I do not like the Sashiko mainly focuses on the result. When a stitcher focuses on the result of how it should be, it loses the rhythm of stitching. I know many stitchers stop stitching because they continue judging themselves (including myself – I hated Sashiko because of this).
  2. Visible Mending, specially those colorful, that showing off the mending itself (Please try to find the articles about Boro is NOT a word for Visible Mending. It is in fact opposite.)
  3. I do not like the Sashiko with the sense of “My Sashiko” that Sashiko with individualism. I have seen some who use the word “freedom” as an excuse to not to learn the Sashiko tradition. Individualism & freedom is good by itself. Improvisation & transformation is good. However, I want them to choose based on their preference, not by the capacity.
  4. Non-geometric Patterns (like a drawing). 
  5. Sashiko from quick Questions that they can find the answers to if they spend a minute or so, and the result of Sashiko with superficial understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
  6. The Sashiko with a sense of “Asking for Admiration as the Art” & “superficial niceness” 
  7. The Sashiko without any respect to the Japanese culture – which includes the western individualism of “How dare you tell me what to do”. 
  8. The Sashiko with perfectionism, such as One stitch by one stitch.
  9. The Sashiko done by those who think they know Sashiko.

Just my Preference

Keiko with more playful mind enjoy her own Sashiko. In contrast, I as more conservative Sashiko artisan doesn’t prefer the red fabric in the Boro-to-be fabric.

Please be advised that this is merely “My” Sashiko preference. I have a partner (my mother, Keiko) in Sashiko activities, and she has her own preference, which somewhat similar, but a few are very much opposite.

I do not want to define what the Japanese Sashiko is here. The Sashiko I practice (the Sashiko I define) is definitely a part of Japanese Sashiko, but not equal to the Sashiko’s whole picture. Therefore, I have so many Social Media where I can think together what Sashiko is for Japanese, and to the world.

Please do not be discouraged to share/enjoy your Sashiko by learning my Sashiko preference. Extremely speaking, “What to make” is not that important. What make “Sashiko” is probably “How to approach the stitching”. I am still learning. I am just more experienced than many of you.

It would be great to keep sharing the Sashiko I love & the Sashiko you respect, and think together to pass down this ordinary, yet beautiful stitching culture.

*Anyone can join the Facebook Group. Please be advised that the group is NOT a place to find the tips for the techniques. It is a place to think what is the Sashiko for the Japanese people (in Japanese Culture). If you are willing to join, please read the guideline there. I made the Facebook group because I was so tired of seeing the Sashiko I do not like in the ocean of the Internet.

Last Update: May. 15th, 2020.

I will keep updating this article. You may find more information on Patreon Articles, if you are interested.


One thought to “Atsushi’s Sashiko Preference as a Sashiko Artisan”

  1. I iced in Tokyo 1975- 1980. Loved it and acquired many artifacts- including modern wood block prints, old kimono and obi- I was fascinated with the indigo mompei: workmen’s clothes. Am interested in the art of satchiko – to do it myself. Sar

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