July 22, 2021 at 09:33AM

One Story. Two completely opposite feedback – one with joy & appreciation, another with anger & aggression. I used to think it was because of my language ability. Not any more. Since I do not “define” it so clearly or provide the clear “answers”, my story becomes a mirror that reflects who they are. This is a scary realization – no matter how much I try, there will be those who attack me “regardless” of what I write. They only read what they want to read by clipping what I wrote. The safest way is to stop writing. However, I need to protect my own identity – and stop writing will result in changing it.

Therefore, I am here to “Share”. I dare not to expect them to be “different”. I do not ask for any changes. I am not here to convince anyone. I don’t really need to validate my logic either. However, “sharing” brings 2 completely opposite feedbacks. I am a human. Of course, I care what others think about me. So, I decided to just “leave” it there. I summarize my message on SNS as a “story”. On Youtube, I will start sharing unedited stories with my unedited stitching as “raw materials (1st source of information)”. One may clip and paste what I say & create an easy & catchy summary saying “Atsushi is trying to shut others up in Sashiko”. It isn’t true, but that’s how they want to understand my stories. Then, what I can do is to leave “everything” so others will “re-repaint” the repainted version of Sashiko. If I cannot stop the process of “repainting” the culture, all I can do is to leave the “original paint” so someone else may/can re-repaint. 

It is very unfortunate that I have to do this emotional & physical labor. 20 years ago, it wasn’t necessary. However, I hope all that I do would contribute to other cultures that may be in the same muddy stream of “Cultural Appropriation”. I know I am not alone in this. Therefore, I can keep sharing (The first unedited voice is on Youtube as Live Streaming Archives on 7/21).

日本を離れて7年。一度も日本の地を踏んでません。気楽に日本に戻れる日がきたら、夢があります。それは、今、この瞬間に、日本で、日本語で、刺し子を楽しんでいる人に会いにいくこと。お話を伺いに行くこと。2012年に刺し子に対する見方が180度変わり、この7年で刺し子に対する想いが広がりました。やっぱり僕は、刺し子は日本のものであって欲しいのです。日本が誇れる、日本の当たり前(だったもの)だと思うから。

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July 20, 2021 at 12:31PM

I have been sharing stories about Sashiko for several years. If you are new here, please start reading some articles & watching some videos (both links from profile). If you can, please try to read them as much as you can. Since I rarely repeat the same story, it is ideal to read all the posts here. 

“Not knowing” is fine. All I fight back is “Ignorance”. This word, “Ignorance” may require a bit of explanation. The ignorance I mean here is “intentionally done” for “their convenience” with “minimizing the origin (indifference)”. When all of these 3 elements, then it becomes a significant Cultural Appropriation issue. I never say that non-Japanese shouldn’t practice Sashiko. I say Sashiko in English is insufficient to be a “master” to teach the whole picture of Sashiko.

Let me simplify a bit. If you follow this account and worry if you are appropriating the Sashiko culture, you are NOT. Ideally, I want you to learn from me to get the core & essence, but that doesn’t define Cultural Appropriation. I know some authors & teachers of “Sashiko” follow this account. To be honest, I respect them. I occasionally write something uncomfortable for them to read. However, they are here to “listen”. This isn’t intentional ignorance. 

Unfortunately, there are people who block my voice and keep teaching Sashiko as if they speak on behalf of other Japanese. They do not worry if they are damaging the culture or not. Therefore, I speak up. The answers to your questions are mostly answered here already. All I am asking is to be “mindful”, and hopefully spread my voice before those “Cultural Invaders” completely change the culture.

先日の久々の配信、ありがとうございました。見返してみたのですが、なんか不自然感が漂っておりました(笑)変わってないことをお伝えしすぎすぎて、結果としてギクシャクしたのか……ただ単に久々すぎるのか。ライフワークだった配信は僕の原点でもあるので、また丁寧にしっかりと再開したいと思っています。また遊びに来て頂ければ幸いです!

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July 18, 2021 at 08:11PM

The previous post. Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with running in the (hamster) wheel. I am still running there. The issues start emerging when they do not realize that they are in the wheel. Well, that’s their choice, and I have no problem with them running. However, what I am experiencing now is them forcing us to run on their wheels.

Of course, the running wheel is a metaphor. Therefore, the running wheel is all different based on our values, common understanding, and most importantly “Culture”. I do not see any problem as long as they run within their cultural running wheels (ideally with their mindfulness to realize that they are running). The Cultural Issue becomes significant when someone pushes their value of “bigger wheel is awesome” or “more efficient wheel will give you better results” when we are well-balanced with what we have. It happened all over the world. It is happening to Sashiko (and probably many other hand-crafting cultures) now.

Unfortunately, I need to be running on various kinds of wheels to be “strong” enough to speak up. Not everyone is ready to even realize what they are doing. Well. You know it by now if you understand what I am writing here. Not Only do they repaint something they do not own, They Decide what Happiness is For you. They try to convince you that the color they repainted is better, as if running in their wheel will bring us more “Happiness”. Unfortunately, those people often do not stitch Sashiko.

本日の夜、久々に日本語で配信をしようと思っています。夜9時頃から、1時間程度を目安に。最近、小難しいことを書くようになっていますが、基本的に何も変わっていません。一人語りの配信はとても久々なのですが、何も変わってねーなーという所を見に来て頂けたら嬉しいです。パソコンから配信できるYoutubeにて。(https://www.youtube.com/c/sashico)

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July 17, 2021 at 05:17PM

The monetary System (Coins and Bills) visualized the measure of wealth. Liberalization (freedom society) pursues individualism and responsibility that one has to carry (to be wealthy). Capitalism rushes us to complete each other to be “free” and “wealth”. Once we drop out from the “system”, then it is extremely challenging to get back on the track. Well, we may call them being eliminated by natural selection. Well… at least, I used to think that “they didn’t do what they had to do – therefore, they are out of the competition” until I started re-learning what Sashiko is.

Some cultures exist(ed) outside of this running wheel. If I were to verbalize (extremely roughly) the fear, it is us (Sashiko) being forced to be running in the wheel. Don’t get me wrong. We have been running on the wheel as well. However, it was a wheel made by Japanese.

Sashiko is merely a form of hand-stitching. Anyone can do that with anything they have. However, the culture of Sashiko exists today on the sweat & hard work by many Japanese who have spent their lives trying to make this culture better (and more accessible). It is so ironic that we may lose some of them because it became a “trend” – in which I thought it would save them instead of pushing them out. Well. I have to admit. I was too late. However, it doesn’t mean there is nothing I can/should do.

貨幣制度が裕福の尺度を作り出し、社会の自由化が個人の責任を第一に追求するようになり、そして資本主義が「(個人が)頑張れば裕福になれる」と競争を急かす。文章で書くとなんだか現実味がありませんが、でも、現代社会は「努力ができること」が前提で成り立っています。もっと簡単に言うと、「自己責任論」。僕はこの言葉が嫌いです。

刺し子がこれだけ有名になると、これからの10年で様々な変化が訪れると思います。もう既に訪れているかもしれないし、今この瞬間かもしれない。刺し子に参入する人がいれば、それだけ刺し子から離れる人も出てきます。それは一般には「自然淘汰」と呼ばれるのかもしれませんが、僕は文化においては、「淘汰」に自然的なものはないと思っています。意図があり、だからこそ諦めがある。では僕は何ができるか。一人の刺し子好きとして声を出し続けるしかないと思うんですよね。

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July 13, 2021 at 07:57PM

I learned that, in the US, it is almost “taboo” to talk about “death”. When we need to talk, the phrases “Past Away” and “Lost” will be used to avoid unnecessary discomfort. It may be the same in Japan. However, since I was raised in a unique environment, I had a lot of opportunities to think about it. “Think” may be a bit of a light word for that. Probably, “face to it” may be the better explanation. In my life, I barely talk about death in English. I follow the US custom there. Here, I will talk about it just a bit.

When one has to stitch for survival in harsh conditions, the possible “death” would be right next to them. Lack of Food, Cold Winter, and Accidents & Disease, anything can bring them death. In fact, I believe, facing death without interpretation was their way to survive another day. Since they gained another day to survive, they appreciated what they had. We may learn how to appreciate “it” when we face to lose it. 

I am NOT saying we have to face it to appreciate, or practice Sashiko. It is the best thing that we can “choose” what we want. However, when it comes to “defining what it is”, saying “whatever is good” is disrespectful to the culture (especially if one is not from the culture they discuss) without learning history. Boro is the extreme result of their survival. It means days after days of facing death (by Japanese) created Boro. I think that damaging fabric on purpose and calling it Boro (mainly for money or showing off) exists on the completely opposite side of what the Japanese did. 

米国に移住して思うのは、「死」という概念そのものがタブー視されているということ。ほとんど語られる事はありません。僕が知らないだけで、日本でも「死」について語る事はタブー視されているのかもしれません。ただ、昔に襤褸を作った日本人のすぐ横には「死」が存在しましたし、僕もそれなりに死について考える人生を歩んできました。そもそも、日本人の「死生観」は独特です。死を穢れとする神道と、死を仏・輪廻転生の一歩と捉える仏教が同時に信じられているので、前提の段階で訳がわかりません(笑)ふと思うのは、「死」を意識すると、「今(の当たり前)」がとてつもなく愛おしくなるのです。感謝もそこから生まれたりします。だからこそなのですが、感謝って意図的にしようと思うものじゃなくて、ふと湧き上がる気持ちなんだと思っています。

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July 12, 2021 at 01:51PM

The human is uncertain. With our brain, we can (pretend to) be anyone. We can smile in the screaming pain. We can (fake) cry for the profit. The Internet made our society more difficult for those who are innocently pure, because if one cannot distinguish “fake” as fake, then it can be a very confusing place. 

Therefore, I enjoy Sashiko. The stitches never fake. Well, in the rhythmical stitching for hours upon hours, one cannot keep faking on stitching. As a result, the stitches tell all the stories. I can tell who is NOT stitching while talking about Sashiko. I can tell why they stitch by looking at stitches. Stitches tells more than the words – therefore, it is very important to verbalize it in words. And I believe, you have your own “stitches” in the same context.

When one stitches being mindful of the process, the stitches become who they are. Therefore, I often say (in Japanese), there are no evil people in the Sashiko we practice. If one is so evil, the result becomes toxic even for themselves… I am not saying all the people in Sashiko are angels. There are… umm, many strange/interesting people there, including myself, but all of them are very… human-like (I won’t define if it is good or bad…but I like the people who actually stitch Sashiko). Sashiko isn’t only about “stitching” for upcycling something. It is a good practice to talk to oneself – like me talking to myself that I do not know so well.

運針をお教えする際、「針目(が揃っているかどうか)は気にしないで」とお伝えして始めます。勿論、揃っている針目が綺麗ですが、普通に運針を続ければ、なんだかんだで意識しなくても揃ってきます。というか、逆に意識して常に針目を揃えてると疲れちゃう。勿論、針目を揃えることはとても大切な目標の一つですが、そこだけに意識を集中して欲しくはないなと思うのです。そもそもですが、「揃ってる」という言葉そのものが、各々の頭の中で微妙に違います。僕が思い描く揃った針目と、恵子さんが思い描く針目は微妙に違います。母子でもそんなもん。だからこそ、針目には人が出てきて、それを拝見するのが何よりも楽しんだなぁと。運針、楽しいですよ〜。

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July 11, 2021 at 07:48AM

Sunday morning. It was such a week. I lost about 350 followers since I talked about “privilege”. It means my posts created a lot of discomfort. It also proves how ignored it can be.

I am an ordinary person. So yes, the number of followers makes me happy when I get more, and makes me sad when I lose them. However, being famous isn’t my goal, Publicity is just a means to make my dream happen. Therefore, “Who follows this account” is much more important than how many follows. Although it isn’t my intention to create discomfort, I write what I have to write to protect my identity. Thank you very much for all the DMs and comments, and keep following me here even in the discomfort I create. 

I am an ordinary father. So yes, I would like to provide a better life to my family by making more money. I know I can get a lot more money by “offering what they want to hear” in this trend. However, then, what to tell my daughter when she faces her identity? To be “clever” and “(fake) nice” to be a winner? Winning in what? She will need to learn where she is from one day. I would like to leave my words for her – which I cannot summarize into my living will and she isn’t ready to receive, so I hope she will read this account one day. Money is very important. Money can prevent/avoid many unfortunate things. However, for me, “how to use money” is more important than “how much I have”. Is it idealistic? Yes, I admit. Am I bluffing? Maybe, because I want money, too. But, being mindful, I don’t need much “stuff” to make myself happy. Happiness is something we realize – not to convince ourselves to be, nor even buy with money. Thank you very much for your time helping me here to realize it. 

とんでもない一週間でした。これまでも様々な誹謗中傷は受けてきましたが、なかなかに酷かったです。英語を読まれる日本の方からの心配の声、時には代理でブチ切れて頂いている声等を頂いて、本当に心強いです。僕の思いは日本人の、ほんの一部の声です。代弁しているなんてこれっぽっちも思っていない。それでも、同じ価値観を共有する日本人の方から、「同じ方向を見てるからね」と見守って頂けているからこそ、前に進めています。ありがとうございます。やってる事は孤軍奮闘っぽいですが、でも一人じゃない。ずーっと独りだったからわかるんです。握ってくれている手がそこにあることを。詳細は今週どこかで配信でお伝えしますね。

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July 10, 2021 at 03:16PM

I love “words”. But, I don’t trust “words” so much. I feel there is something between “imagination (image in our brain)” and “words”. I share stories to outline “it” – something we cannot define or describe comprehensively in words.

Let’s say, I have “a” needle now. Can you imagine “the” needle I have accurately? Probably not. You can imagine “a” needle I have, but not “the” needle – since we have all different filters. Unfortunately, I do not have HDMI output to connect my head to project what I have in my brain. Therefore, we have to trust the mutual understanding of the word, not the word itself. When we bring the word “Needle” to non-English community, it may mean nothing but “symbol”. Now, if you are not Japanese, I want you to try to learn “our (Japanese) mutual understanding”, not only the definition of the word and techniques. 

I did my best to write my intention in English above. However, it is incomplete – sort of “wrong English” because I am still learning. Please laugh and let it go if you are professional in English as Language. Somehow, I need to share this “something in between” in English to protect Sashiko – so I chose to share stories, not just “how to” and “what it is”, with the hope that they read between the lines. 

I receive many messages like this: “I cannot explain/understand why and how, but your writing for some reasons resonates with me.” That is exactly the outcome of reading between lines – remembering your own (indirect) stories while using my story as a trigger. 

What I share through Sashiko isn’t something extraordinary. Regardless of cultural differences, as being human, I believe that we all had something similar as the ordinary. Without that belief, I won’t spend this much time sharing. I fight back against those who force the image of “the” Sashiko. Then, we can appreciate the scenery of “a” Sashiko, and that’s how we can pass down Sashiko.

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July 09, 2021 at 11:42PM

I am sorry for so many posts lately. I feel as if I am in a big whirlpool of “surprise”.

I thought, well “hoped”,  the followers here for a while would get the most important message from Sashiko. I wrote it here and there, mainly as a part of  the story. Receiving so many comments tonight, I feel responsible to state it clear. I prefer they try to read between lines, but this cannot be misunderstood. It isn’t definition, history or technique. It is about the heart of Sashiko.

It is “Appreciation (to what we have)”. Animism kicks in here. We appreciate fabric, needle, thimble, thread, and everyone/everything related to it. The comment states as if I enjoy cutting the fabric.  It is inevitable to cut the fabric for many reasons & purposes, but I do NOT enjoy cutting the fabric. The artisans taught me that “Cutting fabric is equal to cutting yourself” – which is a teaching of how “careful” we should be when we cut the fabric. It is one example of appreciation. If we “have to” discuss the origin of Sashiko, “appreciation” is the origin – not how they stitched it or what they made for. It is too ordinary to generalize the origin – but I believe all Japanese “appreciated”. In this context, appreciation doesn’t mean only “gratitude”. It also includes the acceptance of their ordinary, saying “good enough” with giving up some hope. 

This “Appreciation” is also a difficult word to describe in English as I intend to. Then, with learning here, I now use the word “mindfulness/care” as the essence of “Appreciation”. More accurately, it is all 3 of those together, if it makes sense. Please do not twist this post. This is my origin as well (If you have taken my lecture, you may know why it is the origin).

By the way, I do not block an account unless it is obviously harmful to others. Disagreement is fine (when they read what I write). There are many accounts we had “disputes”, yet they keep following me (Thank you!). Yes, I am an idealist. You may think I am an idiot, and I am aware of that. I am not strong but determined. So, I should be okay. My goal is to “pass down” and what I chose to do is “share”.

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July 09, 2021 at 10:54AM

We, as newbies in “privilege”, have to understand that “privilege” and “handicap/disadvantage” are not the same. I am NOT minimizing the hard work of people with difficulty. However, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t privileged. Also, privilege isn’t simple math. It doesn’t offset “have” and “don’t have”. Therefore, even in extremely difficult conditions, one can be privileged simultaneously – and depending on the topic, acknowledgement becomes important.

“Privilege” now may be about the color of skin for some. I can only talk about Sashiko – and therefore, Privilege here is merely about the “start-line” (which hugely is impacted by color, anyway, but a bit off the topic). We, with people with privilege, tend to define other’s values, often without any harmful intention. I used to say, “Sashiko is stitching for poor Japanese in poverty”. I stop saying that. It was a big mistake in translation. It has to be “Sashiko is stitching in harsh conditions with limited resources”. It can be rude to define that they were “poor” based on our privileged values.

Now, many “privileged” people are romanticizing Sashiko. I am happy that Sashiko is popular. However, when they deny learning, Sashiko may become something different – filtered, repainted, appropriated, all messages here in this account. All I am doing here is to share stories that non-Japanese can reach to. We need to stop defining others with ignoring their stories. Due to privilege, we end up suppressing them even if we are nice. I am NOT negative or angry. I am just sharing. If you think it is negative, it is because of your filter.

*In Japanese, there are many ways to describe “poor”. Some words actually means good souls (Difference in 貧しい&清貧&貧困). Therefore, I think it is a mistake in translation. I still describe Sashiko as “stitching in poverty” in Japanese, but not in English anymore. I do not define Japanese who stitch as “Poor people”.

もーーー。ほんとにごめんなさい。必ず配信します。

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