Online Sashiko Gathering Cover

Online Sashiko Gathering | The core of Sashiko

I often wonder what Sashiko was for the Japanese in 17th or 18th century. A few hundred years later, I am sharing the Sashiko they had practiced. One of the core concept of Sashiko is a sense of community – not stitching technique, design of pattern, or accuracy of each stitches. Sashiko provided the time & place where people can get together, talk to each other, make sure everyone is okay, and stitch. It is my honor to offer the “Online Sashiko Gathering” – where we simply share the time and place over stitching & talking no matter where you are in the world.


What is Online Sashiko Gathering

Online Sashiko Gathering (OSG) is a Zoom meeting where people get together for stitching and talking. OSG is not a structured workshop or class to teach on Sashiko. A participant will bring their own stitching project, and stitch in front of the camera/smartphone sharing a beautiful time (community). There are no restriction, no time table, no assignments. Although I set up the rules to keep the OSG a healthy place, I believe a mutual respect will keep me offering the online Sashiko gathering. Please join us as if you are visiting your friend/family house for the purpose of stitching. A glass of wine and/or a cup of hot tea may be a good accompany.

Who can join the OSG

Ideally, I would like to have anyone who enjoy Sashiko. However, to keep the gathering healthy and satisfactory, please let me prioritize the students/friends who have taken (are taking) Atsushi’s Sashiko Workshop/Online Sashiko Class.

My goal is to involve everyone. This is not a rejection to anyone who have not taken Atsushi’s workhop, it is just a prioritizing for organizing purpose. Please check the paragraph of “How to join the OSG” below even if you are not taking the Sashiko Workshop/Class by Atsushi. At the same time, please consider taking the Online Sashiko Class. Many gave me a feedback that it was an eye-opening experience.

How to join the OSG

Please fill out the simple registration form below. I will send you an invitation following the priority list.

https://forms.gle/zEtw81C3tagxPU5a7

Online Sashiko Gathering doesn’t require any preparation but just installing the Zoom App on your device. However, it may be more satisfactory when you prepare your device to look at the screen while you sharing the stitching. Please check this article for the preparation you may need for joining the Zoom Session (This article is designed for those who takes the Online Sashiko Class & Live Session).

How much does it cost to join

A free of charge! (If you think it is “too generous”, please advise me. I couldn’t come up with pricing, and I say, “let’s do it first and then think”.)

When is the Online Sashiko Gathering

I will schedule whenever I can… It really depends on the school schedule of my daughter as well. Such a strange time & Such a new world. The dates below are confirmed.

  • Friday, July 31st, 2020, around 8 pm EST (Time will be flexible).
  • Friday, August 28th, 2020. Around 8 pm EST starting.

Online Sashiko Gathering Rules and Terms

  • Please respect each other. That’s the principal of this Sashiko Gathering. Please be nice & polite as much as you can.
  • Please keep any discussion & topics within the Sashiko Gathering, unless you get the permission from the person and/or an entire group. The participants may share their personal stories. I would like to keep the OSG as a safe place where anyone can say anything. Please do not “share” the conversation outside of the OSG with non-participants. (It is okay to share that you join the OSG, but not what happened there.)
  • I (Atsushi) will start the OSG at the scheduled time, but I may not be there for the entire time. This is a gathering anyone from any places in the world can join. I would like to welcome everyone over the time-difference. I may assign the “host” assignment someone else so that the gathering can keep going. I offer the Online Sashiko Gathering in Japanese twice a month for 2 years. It can go up to 16 hours (I know it is crazy), and I cannot be there for 16 hours. There is no set-ending time. As long as people wants to talk & stitch, The OSG continues (24 hours is the maximum due to the Zoom capacity).
  • Atsushi & hosts will have permission to remove/reject a participants who are disrespectful this Online Sashiko Gathering.
  • Atsushi may use a photo of Online Sashiko Gathering, with asking for the permission of usage.

I will keep adding the rules and terms. Please advise me if you have anything to be added or removed.


Registration Form

Please fill out the form to be on the list. I will send you an invitation to join the Google Group where I share the link to join the Online Sashiko Gathering. Please contact Atsushi if you do not receive the invitation 30 days after completing this form. Please be advised that Only Workshop/Class graduate will receive the invitation as of August 2020 due to high numbers of request.

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread 2020

Natural Dye Sashiko Thread 2020 Update

We sincerely appreciate your understanding & interest in our Natural Dye Sashiko Thread. It has been a great pleasure to offer the Natural Color, hand-dyed by Keiko Futatsuya, in the Sashiko market in English. We have been offering the same numbering with very similar colors for almost 5 years since 2015 when Keiko first asked me to help her project. In Spring 2020, she decided to have a minor update on her Natural Dye Sashiko Thread. Here is the Natural Dye Sashiko Thread 2020 Update.

*Due to the characteristic of hand-dye & Natural Dye, each batch has a slight color difference even in the same numbering. Thank you for your continuous understanding for the hand-made items.


Natural Dye Sashiko Thread 2020

We still offer the same numbering (with the letter “m” after the numbers) with very similar color. This is not a major update/change. However, the new Natural Dye Sashiko Thread 2020 Collection will have more “matte” taste in comparison to the previous little “shinny” colors.

This change is due to several reasons. (1) is about the production change in the thread making procedure. (2) is to have better Natural Dye Sashiko thread for Keiko’s work with Japanese Vintage fabrics.

Both of the Natural Dye Sashiko thread is beautiful, either Matte or Shine. However, please be advised that we will start offering the new Matte Natural Dye Sashiko thread after June 2020, accordingly after finishing the current inventory in the U.S.

This change will apply to all of the Natural Dye Sashiko Thread, including Indigo, Kakishibu, Muban (no-numbers) and Murazome (Uneven/Variegated). Please contact me if you have any questions & requests.

*As of June 13th, the international shipping from Japan is suspended, so we do not know when we can start offering it. I will update the product page accordingly.


Color of Natural Dye Sashiko Thread 2020

Indigo Dye & Kakishibu (Persimmon Tannin)

Both of Indigo & Kakishibu are very popular & difficult to offer. Therefore, please check the update on our Instagram & other SNS for the availability.


About the Numbering & Dye Materials

We use the same numbering & the same Dye materials in very similar procedures. The different is the result with a bit of matte taste. Please refer the list of numbering, Dye materials & color for your convenience.

  • #002 – Japanese Nutgall – Gray
  • #003 – Tangara – Beige
  • #004 – tangara – Gray
  • #006 – Myrobalan – Gray (with a hint of Green)
  • #008 – Lac Dye – Purple
  • #010 – Lac Dye – Pink
  • #010D – Lac Dye – Dark Pink
  • #011 – Lac Dye – Dark Purple
  • #013 – Madder – Pink
  • #014 – Madder – Pink
  • #015 – Madder – Pink
  • #020 – Logwood – Blue *1
  • #022 – Mountain Peach – Gray
  • #024 – Mountain Peach – Yellow
  • #025 – Myrobalan – Yellow
  • #026 – Logwood – Gray *1
  • #027 – Logwood – Purple *1
  • #028 – Logwood – Blue *1

*Tangara = bark of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza

*1: Logwood is more challenging to produce the stable color. Therefore it may not be available on the web Shop (Before 2019, they were only available in the In-person workshop & Pop-up Store). We are working on the special page for the Logwood. Meanwhile, please contact me if you are interested in purchasing them.

The reason we have “missed numbering” is that there are several colors we decided to discontinue. Some colors, we couldn’t reproduce no matter how we try. Some colors, we decided that they are too identical to issue different numbering (for example, #019 and #006 are now integrated to #006). This is the beauty of hand-dye & Natural Dye. I hope you enjoy the beauty of the “moment”.

Sashiko FaceMask Kit

Sashiko FaceMask Kit | Make it by yourself

I introduced some of Sashiko Stitched Facemask on Instagram. I appreciate many admiration on comments. At the same time, I receive quite many inquiries if the Sashiko FaceMask is for sale. Since I am a caregiver to my daughter & Sashiko FaceMask takes many hours to complete, I am not thinking to offer a Sashiko Face mask for sale as of April 2020. Instead, I made a “Sashiko FaceMask Kit” so that you can make it by yourself with enjoying Sashiko. Although the kit doesn’t include the written instruction, a whole Live-Streaming of me making the Sashiko mask is available as a Youtube Video, and I will follow-up the request on this article as much as I can, including some “hows” videos & information.

It would be great if you could enjoy a process of Sashiko, and then enjoy the result of Sashiko FaceMask Kit in this crisis.

Purchase the Kit

Disclaimer:

The mask you may make out of this set is NOT a solution for the medical purpose. The Sashiko stitching itself may be an unnecessary process in terms of “filtering” the virus perspective.

Please understand that the set is for ENJOYING SASHIKO while making something to cover your mouth. If you are in need of protecting yourself from virus, please get the N95 or other appropriate equipment.


Sashiko FaceMask Kit description

Full-set includes everything you need to make Sashiko FaceMask with enjoying Sashiko. Basic Set will deliver the fabrics that I used to make the Sashiko mask. The detail is available on the product page, and please make sure to read before your purchase.

Full Set includes:

  • 1. Outside Fabric // Indigo Dye Cotton 100% Fabric (About 9″ x 10.5″) – the best fabric for enjoying Sashiko
  • 2. Inside Fabric // Cotton 100% Poplin Fabric (About 9″ x 10.5″) – very smooth touch
  • 3. Gauze fabric for the insert // cotton 100% (About 9″ x 13″) – the purpose of this insert is to retain some moisture to protect mask being wet in short period of time. You may use this fabric as a washable & removable filter (Not the medical filter).
  • 4. Pattern Paper for Mask Shape (On Card Stock 110 index) – *please adjust the size. The mask is “adult” size
  • 5. Elastic Band // 1/4 wide, about ~30″ length
  • 6. A Sashiko Thread (Our regular & favorite) // $13.50 value on Etsy // Color of your choice from 15 colors (if no specification, the bright white will be picked)
  • 7. A set of thimble & needles // $14.50 value on Etsy
  • 8. Thread bobbin paper
  • 9. Chalk Pencil

*Basic Set includes (1) to (5)

*Full Set comes with Free US Domestic Shipping


Follow Up Information for Sashiko FaceMask Kit

Please find a list of information here for the follow-up. I rushed to offer the kit before preparing the tutorials. I will try my best to keep up with a request from those who purchase the kits (Please contact me with the order number.)

Tips:

  • An example of how to proceed.
    1. Prepare the pattern first on the back side of fabric (We traditionally fold fabric inside front. So, outside is the backside.
    2. Enjoy Sashiko stitching.
    3. (This process can be skipped for Sashiko Mask) Soak the fabric into the water and dry it (avoid tumble dry for this step).
    4. Cut the fabric as the Mask Pattern.
    5. Sew the mask up.
    6. Wash it before you use it & follow the sanitizing procedure.
    7. After several washes and drying, it should be fine to be washed in a washing machine & tumble dry. At least, that’s what I do.

Sashiko Youtube Videos

Useful Information on article

Last Update: April 20th, 2020

Purchase the Kit

Sashiko Order in Covid-19

Shipping Update | Sashiko Order in Covid-19 pandemic

The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused many countries to take necessary measures in global/international shipping. We, as Upcycle Stitches, are operating the international shipping following to the necessary procedure as well. If you are ordering to the non-U.S. shipping address, please take a look at this article, and understand what is the availability for now. This is our shipping procedure update for a Sashiko order in Covid-19 Pandemic.

[Update: May 21st, 2020]

Please note that all of the shipping, including the domestic shipping & especially the international shipping (regardless of the origin of shipping) are experiencing delay. Please check the tracking numbers for more information once the package has been shipped out.


Sashiko Order in Covid-19

Regardless of whereabout the shipping address, your order will be processed as quickly and carefully as usual. Before April 2020, we usually ship within 1 business day (if an order placed before 9 am, in the same day). We try our best to match this speed. However, since Atsushi is only the one who prepares the package, the shipment can be delayed by a few business days due to the school shutdown.

If the order is made for the U.S. domestic shipping address, it should be arrived as normal. I will keep updating the information with following the USPS measures.

If the order is made for the Non U.S. international shipping address, please read the description below.


International Shipping with USPS

To make sure either USPS makes a delivery to your country, please check their recent announcement here.

https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/international/welcome.htm


We continue offering the International Shipping where the USPS offer the delivery to. We were offering the International Shipping from Japan with using the Japan Post for the appropriate country before April 2020. However, due to the Japan Post’s latest update (Temporary suspension of acceptance and delivery delays of mail items destined to various countries/territories), we will most likely to make the all International shipping from the U.S.

It may take extra time to complete the delivery due to this update. I do not have enough experience of “how long” it may take to complete the international shipping with USPS, especially if you are making the order from the Australia, New Zealand, and other Asian countries.

Also, USPS requires the phone number of recipient regardless of the destination. Please make sure to list your phone number in appropriate style, with starting the country code. For example, for the U.S., it has to be +1 (000) 000-0000. The international order without the phone number may be ceased until we hear from you.


International Shipping from Japan

Depending on the item you order, the shipment from Japan may be required. In order to make a shipment from Japan, the package has to be upgraded to the Express Mail (EMS). Depending on the order amount, we will offer the free upgrade. If the order is too small, we may contact you for the possible options such as delaying the shipment until the Japan post resume its operation.

【Update: April 24th】

Japan Post announced a temporary suspension of acceptance and delivery delays of mail items destined to various countries/territories. If you are considering a purchase of our product to delivered to the countries below, we will do our best to make a shipment from the U.S. with USPS international first-class mail. It can take a long time to complete the shipping depends on the items you would like to purchase. Please contact us first if you are making a big order (Please expect a delay in response, as well. I apologize any inconvenience in advance).

Check the List of Countries (PDF)

Even the countries not on the list, there may be a need for the specific attention. After placing the order, please check the email from Atsushi (sashikoatsushi●gmail.com).

We are here for your Sashiko needs

We will continue offering our best service for your Sashiko needs. It is our promise to deliver the package no matter what – even if the package is lost, we will try our best to find it and/or redeliver it. (Please check the past case of lost package over International Shipping).

Also, we will be sincere and honest to the situation. If the order cannot be completed, we will of course refund the money you paid.

We sincerely appreciate your time to read this article, and willing to support the small family business in this crisis.

Sashiko in COVID-10 Crisis

What I can do for Sashiko in COVID-19 Crisis

It is quite sad, frustrated, and scary to experience the pandemic in today’s society. Following the necessary precautions such as “Washing Hands”, “Staying at Home”, and “Keeping Social Distance” are what we can do to contribute to the settle down. Please be careful, mindful, and attentive. Your choice can better off the society. While I am staying in the house with my family more than ever, I also wonder what I can do for Sashiko in COVID-19 crisis. Sashiko itself is not essential to survive. However, I believe Sashiko (and other hand-crafting & art) will be very essential in a long term. First things first. Please take care of your fundamental needs. After we secure the basic needs of food, shelter, finance & safety, we as human beings would need a practice like Sashiko. In fact, I receive many feedback that my friends can go through the stressful quarantine thanks to the hand-stitching & Sashiko. More than ever, Sashiko may be essential for us. It is my commitment to pass down the culture of Sashiko. Here is what I can do for Sashiko in COVID-19 Crisis.


【Update on June 30th, 2020】

The Special Offer has ended as announced on June 30th, 2020. The situation remain the same, but we would like to prepare for the new normal. Thank you very much for your support & understanding.

This article summarize our Sashiko offers/deals during the pandemic outbreak. For the quick reference, please check the list below. For the detail, please scroll down.

  • Learn Sashiko Online with Special Store Credit (Ended).
  • Refresh your Sashiko Learning (for free) *(Ended)
  • Special Sashiko Bag with Thread & Fabric *(Continued)
  • Zoom Sashiko Gathering *(Planning)
  • Reminder of Shipping Free Coupon (Continued)

*This article is a summary of Newsletter on 3/26

*This (*) mark requires the prerequisite of Sashiko Workshop/Online Class.

*Some of the special offers/deals will be ending at the end of June 2020 with accepting the state of PA moving its phase to “Green”, which is a process to reopen. Thank you for your interest! (Update on 6/15)


Sashiko in COVID-19 Crisis

Sashiko does not require any social interaction. As I have been keep saying, Sashiko can be quite “lonely” (although I do not want you to feel lonely all the time. You may feel lonely, but I will always support the Sashiko journey of my friends). For that matter, Sashiko can be a great activity to practice/learn during this quarantine time. After a careful consideration, I decided to offer the special deals.

Learn Sashiko Online & Get $110.00 of Store Credit

This Deal is Ended. Thank you.

This is the special deal offering $110.00 store credit for anyone who sign-up for the Online Sashiko Class. You can start learning the Sashiko right after the registration (after my email & package arrival). With applying the $110.00 store credit to the special bag I made for the Stay-Home special (which I explain below), it is almost 40% discount in retail values.

I often get the same question. “How can you make stitches so even?” The answer is simple: “Do not try to make them even.” The Online Sashiko Class introduce “how” to do it like Atsushi does in his live streaming. Many gave me the feedback as the “eye-opening” experience and “an opportunity to learn the new technique”. Please consider taking the Sashiko Online Class when you may have some time in your house.

*For the detail, please read the blog article. Some restriction applies for the usage of Store Credit based on your shipping address. The $110.00 credit is available to the previous students who paid full amount for the Online Sashiko Class in 2019/2020 (Not for those who used the discount code.)

Refresh Your Sashiko Learning (for free)

This Deal is Ended. Thank you.

I would like you to continue the Sashiko stitching after your workshop/Online Class experience. To encourage you to enjoy Sashiko stitching in this time, I decided to offer the Online Sashiko Videos (the videos I use for the Online Sashiko Class) for free of charge to anyone who previously took Atsushi’s Sashiko Workshop (more than 3 hours length – title may include “Core & Basic”) in NY, NJ, PA, and TX. (I was preparing it & wondering how much I should ask for…)

If you are interested in refreshing your learning with the online videos, please contact me with email address you registered for the workshop. All of the workshop participants should have received the follow-up email from me after the In-Person workshop with presentation slides. Based on the email address, I will figure out if you have taken the workshop in the past.

  • This offer is eligible to individuals who took the full-length (more than 3 hours) Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic). Unfortunately, the workshop with short-version (such as in Japan Society) & other Atsushi’s previous workshops (such as Denim Sashiko & Boro mending workshops I offered before 2018) are not eligible to this offer. This is because I would like to be fair with everyone. Please forgive me this exclusion. The Online Sashiko Class (Videos) covers the same contents as the in-person workshop (Core & Basic).
  • For those who took other workshop offered by Atsushi above (like Sashiko Mending Workshop), I am happy to offer the 40% off coupons. You may choose either the 40% Off coupon or the Stay-Home Special above. If you would like to get the 40% Off, please send me an email with your email address that you had previously participated in any of Atsushi’s Sashiko workshops.
  • Per your request, I will send you the videos & password. Please respect the copyright & please do not share the information with others. It is exclusive for the graduates of Atsushi’s workshop.
  • This offer is free of charge. (Any contribution is appreciated!)
  • I will support your Sashiko learning as much as I can. However, please understand that this is not a lecture. You will watch the videos & you can refresh your memory. Also, please understand that the priority goes to the people who is currently learning the Sashiko Online. This is an offer to refresh your learning!\
  • The same Sashiko Supply kit that you used in the workshop is available for purchase, if you would like to do the same workshop again over the Internet. The pricing is $65.00 + shipping. I will try to make a link, but meanwhile, please contact me if you would like to purchase the kit.

Special Sashiko Bag with Thread & Fabric

It is my hope that you keep stitching after the Online Class with stitching in different project continuously. This is a bag of threads and fabric to keep you busy in Sashiko for several weeks/months. This bag is available for only the Sashiko Workshop/Online Class graduates.


Zoom Sashiko Gathering

As I mentioned above, Sashiko can be quite a lonely work/stitching. However, I always want you to feel that someone is stitching somewhere in the world with sharing the same “Care”. It is my ultimate goal to pass down the Sashiko – to create a community where everyone can feel safe & validated.

I am planning to offer a free Zoom Sashiko Gathering online. In order to be fair with everyone & to allow me to talk about “Anything”, I plan to limit the participants to the graduates of Sashiko Workshop (Core & Basic) & Online Sashiko Class. I apologize for this exclusion in advance. As much as I would like to be inclusive, I also would like to be fair & protective to the current existing group. Thank you for your understanding. Please consider joining the Online Sashiko Class. I believe it will be a good learning experience especially if you would like to continue Sashiko for a long time.

Just a reminder of Shipping Free Coupon on our store

I may add some more miscellaneous offers here and there. However, the main offers for “What I can do for Sashiko in COVID-19 Crisis” is above. I plan to make a mailing list for the “Zoom gathering”, and anyone in the list will get the latest updates for the offers.

Just a reminder. Everyone with the US Shipping address is qualified for the Shipping Free Coupon for the order of $75.00 with the coupon Code: FREEUPCYCLE75+

If your shipping address is outside of the US, please proceed the order & contact me (or write the coupon in the check out page) so I can adjust the shipping fees for your destination (It will be about $3.00 to $8.00 shipping fee adjustment).

Stay Home. Wash Hands. Keep Social Distance. Then, enjoy Sashiko!

Cultural Appropriation Cover

Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko

The recent discussion about Sashiko started on FB group following in Instagram & our FB group taught me a variety of views to look at things. In order to grasp this discussion, please read the articles of “Why Do you call it Sashiko” and “Mindful Reading“. These 2 articles would be good-to-read materials to understand who I am on top of what I do. Regardless, it was a necessary learning experience for me to keep this journey of sharing what Sashiko is. However, there was one assignment I took home with me to study: learning about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko.


Japanese Cultural Appropriation

The word, Cultural Appropriation, was a too complicated concept for me to explain with the Sashiko we practice. Therefore, with knowing the recent discussion about the word “Kimono” and its cultural appropriation (My Kimono is not your couture), I couldn’t express my insights to the public. I wanted to make sure that I understand what I write before asking someone to read. A follower on Instagram introduced me the brilliant article, written by Ms. Maki – Japanese potter lives in Yorkshire. Her writing encouraged me to express how I feel about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko.

Her powerful writing is must to read if you are interested in being creatively inspired by Japanese culture (or any other culture, for that matter). Please take a moment here to read through her writing, then please read how I feel about it. I sincerely respect her writing and appreciate her courage and time to share.


I encourage you to call it Sashiko

With my sincere respect to her writing, I encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko as long as you “try” to understand and respect the Japanese culture. I am not asking you to be a master of Japanese culture, nor practice the Japanese custom thoroughly. What I am asking is your attitude to understand who the Japanese are.

Do I sound like contradicting between what I write and what Maki wrote: “Naming DOES matter”? Please let me explain it here.


“Kimono” and “Sashiko” is a bit different

I came to the conclusion to not to consider “Calling your stitching Sashiko” as the Cultural Appropriation based on the 3 factors below.

  1. Sashiko may be too ordinary in the concept of Cultural Appropriation.
  2. Many Japanese also misuses the word of Sashiko.
  3. The word Sashiko is mainly used in the non-commercial situation.

(1) Is Sashiko Japanese culture?

Kimono is a Japanese clothing culture. When they try to research what the Kimono is, there are numbers of books and article to read. However, in Sashiko, there aren’t many documents published to understand Sashiko as the culture.

In fact, I am not sure if we can call Sashiko as the Japanese “culture” yet (therefore I keep asking to respect the Japanese culture in Sashiko – not Sashiko Culture). The ordinary Japanese practiced Sashiko in their ordinary life. The hand-stitching to repurpose the fabric was just too ordinary for the Japanese. We do not have enough documents and testimonies left to define Sashiko as the Japanese culture. However, I believe I can say that Sashiko has a lot of Japanese cultural characteristic – and without that, I wouldn’t want to call it Sashiko. (One of the characteristics of Sashiko and Japanese culture would be a concept of Animism in Sashiko.)

When we aren’t 100% sure to call Sashiko as the Japanese culture, it would be better to keep it as non-Cultural-Appropriation matter. Kimono is different. It is the defined clothing culture. When they disrespect the Japanese culture in Sashiko, then I would get offended. I don’t know how to call this anger or frustration yet – but probably not the Cultural Appropriation.


(2) Is Sashiko common for Japanese?

The second factor is that Sashiko isn’t so common for Japanese neither. Every single Japanese knows what the Kimono indicates. Not all the Japanese know what Sashiko looks like.

In fact, the Sashiko we practice now may be a bit different from the Sashiko the Japanese practiced a long time ago. The culture transform itself. It isn’t about good or bad. It just happens. However, there are many stories behinds each Sashiko or Sashiko related fabric. This website and our SNS accounts are for sharing those stories – like difference between hand-stitching Sashiko and woven Sashiko as well as the difference between Boro and Sashiko.

Since Sashiko isn’t so common in Japanese, it may be harsh to name someone’s stitching as the Cultural Appropriation.


(3) We enjoy Sashiko stitching with no intention.

The last factor I would like to mention is that many of us calling their stitching Sashiko do not intend to disgrace the Sashiko stitching. They enjoy Sashiko (or any form of hand-stitching) with no intention of the power of the word. I can say so because not many people use the word for the non-commercial setting.

I am aware that some companies/people use the word of Sashiko to sell their “Non-stitched” item. For that, I would get upset as the form of Cultural Appropriation (as Ms.Maki mentioned in her article). However, those who are interested in my messages are the people who simply enjoy Sashiko stitching for non-commercial purposes, so I would like to avoid scaring them to enjoy their Sashiko stitching.


The fear I experienced in the discussion

Yes. I encouraged you to call it Sashiko. However, I still have the fear I explained previously. Maki explained the fear I had experienced in the discussion very well. It is “言葉の一人歩き”.

言葉の一人歩き (kotoba no hitori aruki) literally translates as “word walking on its own”. It’s the Japanese expression of the state of misused and misinterpreted information, that has nothing to do with the origin, are spreading selfishly in the society.

https://makikohastings.blogspot.com/2019/05/naming-does-matter-my-thought-on.html

This happens when we use the word without good understanding of what it actually means. I personally feel that the word “Wabi-Sabi” is a good example of this. Interestingly, once the word start walking on its own, there is no way to stop it – because we tend to listen what we want to listen and we use the most effective aspect of the word.

If the one who uses the word is aware of their action – let’s say Sashiko is the Japanese hand-stitching culture – the word walks toward slowly implementing the other values. However, when they start using the word without knowing the background, the word rapidly and drastically starts absorbing what they want to reflect on the word.

The word is a wisdom, not a tool. However, without an attitude to understand the culture and background, it could be hurtful for many people.

A good example of this matter would be the word of “Sashiko as the recycle method.” I have read some statement that we can use “whatever we have” because Sashiko’s core principal is to recycle what we have. I do not think so. Yes, Boro is the ultimate result of upcycling and recycling what they had. However, the core message of Sashiko is to appreciate & care what they had like blanket or Jacket. In order to mend the Jacket for better use in the future, they would have used the better thread (if they had a choice.) Using whatever we have in the box because of convenience is not the Japanese culture in Sashiko. By using the supplies designed for Sashiko purpose, not only the result will be more beautiful and long-lasting, it can help to preserve the industries in Sashiko.


The words of “Respect” and “Appreciation” requires Action.

In the FB comments, I was accused of overreacting. I do not believe that I overreacted to the issues. Sashiko is something very deeply rooted in my identity.

In Zen practice, the Japanese believed that the word doesn’t contain the truth. I followed this concept, and therefore, I also practice Sashiko on top of writing and sharing. Although the word “cannot” contain the truth by itself, the word can have the power and responsibility. It leads to the concept of being mindful in our ordinary days. I hope, by enjoying Sashiko, we can be mindful and think of the responsibility of what we say/write.

Again, I do not consider someone calling their hand-stitching “Sashiko” as the form of cultural appropriation. I worry more of the cultural transformation by quick read what is available online. Therefore, I would like you to call your stitching Sashiko especially when you have read my writing this far and trying to understand the Japanese culture. Your contribution can help to preserve the Sashiko culture, and I appreciate your action very much.



 [Editor’s Note]

I am still sad and angry about the comments I have received in the previous discussion on Facebook. I felt insulted – without them even trying to understand what I am trying to do. However, at the same time, it was very grateful to experience because I receive so many more messages to encourage what I do. I receive 100 times more positive messages in comparison to those insulting comments. These warm & understanding messages are the motivation of writing this article. Here is an interesting story. Those who “care” to understand the Japanese culture in Sashiko are the one who worried if they use Sashiko inappropriately – as a form of Cultural Appropriation, like you who have been reading this far. This is the writing for you who care what I do so that you would send me the encouraging messages when I get confused. I hope this article helped you to enjoy Sashiko more. The fear I feel is not from you.

I used to suppress the negative feeling such as anger or sadness. Now, I understand those feeling is what define us as human – when someone disgrace something I value the most, I should get emotional to protect it. With the fear, I would like to be as natural as one human being can be.


The Fear of alternating Sashiko

Above, as you know, I mentioned that I wouldn’t consider “calling a form of hand-stitching” Sashiko as Cultural Appropriation. Furthermore, when you “care” to understand the Japanese culture behind Sashiko, I would like to encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko. It isn’t about the stitching result much. It is about the mindset to practice Sashiko, at least the Sashiko we would like to pass down.

Let me share, once again, that I still have the fear deep down there: Sashiko may alter its form so rapidly, by those who try to “understand” Sashiko as their own way without caring, that Sashiko may lose the original form of what it actually is (was). Therefore, I keep sharing my view of the Sashiko we practice – mainly on Instagram- to encourage people to enjoy more than just stitching but something more than that.


By the way, I do not intend to control someone’s feeling or actions. If they want to practice “Sashiko” as they want, unfortunately, I have no control over it. Because I cannot control it, I just keep sharing what I believe in so the other will receive the core messages I would like to pass down. There are always people who twist the messages I am trying to communicate.

I am an idealist but I know the reality. We have all our view to look at things. One called me that I am arrogant, and accused me of acting as the authority of Sashiko. Another commented that I am intimidating to others. Well, again, I cannot control how they receive my messages.

(However, I hope, when they read what I have been writing, the words of “Arrogant”, “Authority” and “Intimidating” are the opposite terms for what I have been doing. I can say that confidently because many more of people encouraged me to keep sharing them with appreciation. I hope you understanding my point here. If I wrote something arrogant or intimidating, please let me know with the specific part that I wrote so I can self-reflect and edit them. I am a human. I make a mistake. )


It is okay that they take my message in a different way. However, for those who do not like what I share, I don’t want them to learn the Sashiko from what I write, upload as videos, or provide workshops or supplies. If they learn the Sashiko from me yet thinking that I am arrogant, then it is the fear I am worrying the most; alternating the Sashiko culture. “Convenience” isn’t the first principal of Japanese culture.

(It is fair… right? I always provide the 3 politeness replies before I get offended. Again, everyone makes mistakes and we all deserve a chance to re-do things.)

After all, Sashiko is like my family. When I see the intentional action of alternating the Sashiko culture like above, I will fight back no matter what.

Oops. The editors note got so long. I am here to share & support the Sashiko you would like to enjoy – unless you try to “care” others. Thank you for your time to read this far.

Atsushi

Is Sashiko Art Cover

Is Sashiko Art? | The origin of Sashiko as Folk Art

Well. This can be a bit surprising for some of you. When I question myself, “Is Sashiko Art?”, the answer I come up with is, “No, I do not think Sashiko is the (Fine) Art.

Sashiko isn’t the (Fine) Art for me. More precisely speaking, I would say, “Sashiko can be a form of Art, but Sashiko was not developed as the Art.” In other words, thanks to a friend of mine who gave me a good insight, “Sashiko is a form of Folk Art but not Fine Art.”

*After learning the difference between Fine Art, Folk Art, and general concept (big picture) of Art, I consider Sashiko can be the part of Art.

Some may disagree with me. I understand that the beauty of Sashiko item can be understood as the form of Fine Art. However, with considering the definition of Art and the origin of Sashiko, it is unnatural for me to say “Sashiko is the art”. 

Please bear with me here. I will try my best to explain the reasoning and logic behind it. This blog post is my challenge to explain why I say “No” to the question of “Is Sashiko Art?”


*Please understand that my intention to write about this topic is to figure out where I stand. I never intend to judge or criticize someone or someone’s art. In fact, I (Atsushi) am the one who would like to develop Sashiko as the art toward the future. However, most of the Sashiko artisans I respect including my mother Keiko, do not consider Sashiko as the Art (or Fine Art). In order to move forward, understanding Sashiko and its possibility is must-thing for me to do. I hope this article can give you another perspective of Sashiko. 

*English is my second language, and has been so long since I wrote an essay in English… forgive me any typo or grammatical error. I will do my best in correction when you point out some (but please be accepting, too. Being perfect in writing isn’t the goal here.)

 

Table of Content

  • Why do I care if Sashiko is Art or not? – my motivation
  • Art Terminology & Definition
  • Sashiko as a process of caring – not the result
  • Sashiko as the Folk Art – Mingei –
  • Categorization of Some Japanese Arts and Traditions
  • The whole discussion is for me (Atsushi)
  • The culture & Tradition alter over time. 
  • I respect not only the result but the concept behind it

 

Why do I care if Sashiko is Art?

First of all, I would like to explain why I care if Sashiko is Art or not. I understand that it is even ridiculous to define the words in Art. Understanding the Art itself is already abstract and subjective. If she/he thinks the item “A” is the art, the item “A” is the Art. 

Also, it is very true that we should simply enjoy the beauty of the result, and share the pleasure and joy of Sashiko art items. 

In 2018, throughout many Sashiko workshop opportunity, we have received numbers of compliments that we (Keiko and Atsushi) are the true Sashiko Artist. I enjoyed the positive feedbacks, and I called myself “Sashiko Artist” without even thinking deeply. I simply enjoyed what I do, and shared the pleasure of Sashiko.

Then, I just realize why I never considered myself as the artist before offering the workshop in the USA. I never thought of me an Artist in Japan. Keiko, who lives Japan, still don’t consider herself artist. 

When someone call me an artist, I have no problem with that. I don’t know what Art is yet someone find me an artist. It is absolutely fine.

However, when I title myself as the artist, I wanted to know what I meant by it. Without this, I cannot move forward to introduce the traditional Sashiko as well as possibly Sashiiko as the Fine Art (which I believe Sashiko is not).


Art Terminology & Definition

When we talk about the definition of an item, it is very important to make sure we all are on the same page of the other words’ definition and terminology. Here are several words I would like to define first.

Art:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Fine Art

Creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.

Folk Art

Encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic

I realize the definition for the general “Art” is too broad to discuss my point. So, I would like to use these 2 words, Fine Art and Folk Art, to explain my ideas.

  • Fine Art has no functions to the necessity in life, there fore it is Fine Art.
  • Folk Art is developed for the necessity and we put the value as the art later on.

Therefore, I think, Sashiko is a form of Folk Art and not Fine Art. 

Sashiko as a process of caring – not the result.

I strongly believe Sashiko is the process of needle movement rather than the results of the mass of stitches. For the achievement of Sashiko, we appreciate the result of Sashiko stitching by the nameless Japanese who performed Sashiko stitching. Some of their achievements are called Boro, and we appreciate the beauty of it.

I wonder, if the Japanese thought of “Fine Art” when they practiced Sashiko stitching in the past. Probably not. It was merely a chore to survive through the severe winter in Japan. They would probably care about the family or their friends, and made stitches rather than worrying how beautiful and inspirational it would be as the art.

(*It is not a discussion of black and white. I also believe that the women who mended fabric with Sashiko cared the result as a beautiful pieces in their capacity with limited resources and time. However, it isn’t the Fine Art since they “could have” express more if they didn’t have to work for the purpose.)

In fact, “because of this caring stitches”, I believe Sashiko is so beautiful and inspirational. I feel unnatural by saying “Sashiko is the Fine Art” because I am probably scared of losing the taste of “Caring stitches.”


There is a machine which can make the even length (fairly long) stitches so called it Sashiko Sewing machine. People sometimes ask for my opinion about the Sashiko machine. I enjoyed watching what the machine can do. However, I know I wouldn’t use the Sashiko sewing machine because it doesn’t involve the core of Sashiko – enjoying a dialogue with fabric.

I have no problem with people using the sewing machine and calling it Sashiko. However, as the one who was born in Sashiko family and still practices Sashiko, I would like to be able to distinguish the beauty in preciseness and uneven (& caring) stitches.

  • The beauty of item is the secondary.
  • The process of stitching is the primary.

Then, the question kicks in.
In order to define Sashiko as the Folk Art, the item has to be made by nameless people. I use my name, Atsushi Futatsuya, and my mother’s name, Keiko Futatsuya, to stand out in the field. Would it be called Folk Art Sashiko?

I don’t know. This is the reason I started asking the question if Sashiko is the Art.

Strictly speaking, what we are doing may not be authentic Sashiko because we use our name. Furthermore, I am the one who wants to be the artist regardless of the original figure of Sashiko. Therefore, I wanted to make sure where I stand before I move forward in 2019.
(Keiko, my mother, never thought herself as the artist. She cares much using her name neither. What she cares is how to surprise the world by her enjoying Sashiko stitching. If you behold or possesses her Sashiko items, you should be able to understand this, but her stitches are full of caring and therefore it is so beautiful.)

Again, it seems I am the one who would like to call Sashiko the Fine Art. However, all of my experience and knowledge says it is not. So, this is merely a start of my long journey to re-define Sashiko. 

Sashiko as the Folk Art – Mingei – do they care how it looks? No.

Mingei Art Movement in Japan and Sashiko


The folk Art in Japan has its rich history. I introduce the Folk Art (Mingei Art) Movement in Japan in a separate blog article (Above). For more details, I recommend reading one of founder’s book, Yanagi Soetsu’s book. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanagi_S%C5%8Detsu)

Generally speaking, Yanagi Soetsu defined Mingei by these 8 criteria.

  • Practical: made for practical usage, not for the display.
  • Nameless: made by unknown craftsman, and the craft is not made to be famous.
  • Mass-produced: In order to meet the demand from the people, the item were made in mass quantity.
  • Reasonable Price: Inexpensive price so the ordinal people could purchase and use.
  • Locality: The art item has a local characteristic such as color, shape, and patterns.
  • Division of Labor: For the mass production, the art item was made in the division of labors by skilled craftsman
  • Tradition: Following the tradition and wisdom the ancestors cultivated.
  • Collectability: The creation depend on the local tradition and climate rather than the individual skill

Sashiko was discovered as the part of Mingei movement (In Northern part of Japan). Sashiko followed all of the 8 criteria above at some point. However. after the industrial revolution, we (including my Sashiko family) needed to alter its character and lost the sense of Mingei. In other words, Sashiko became unnecessary at some point in Japanese history, and only a few people kept the tradition and customs with non-Mingei reasons.

The Sashiko I was grown up with is somewhat nameless (brand name with about 50 nameless artisans), somewhat Mass-produced in a capacity of hand-made craft, and relatively reasonable as the local souvenir.

Sashiko I practice now after the difficulty to continue the family Sashiko is not nameless (although we have nameless artisans as well), somewhat Mass-produced but mostly one-of-a-kind, and expensive (although some say super reasonable for the amount of the work required).

As you can tell, the Sashiko we practice is not already following the strict rule of Mingei. However, (therefore), I feel unnatural to say Sashiko is the Fine Art. I feel Keiko and I would lose the other characteristic of Mingei by defining Sashiko as the art, which I am horrified to face to the risk of losing the core beauty of Sashiko.

I hope I am explaining enough why I started this – this blog entry is not for judging someone. It is for encouraging myself to move forward. I could keep going without defining Sashiko if I didn’t know that so many people get interested in Sashiko. Now, thanks to SNS, because I know there are many people who enjoy Sashiko, I feel obligated to explain the origin of Sashiko – to respect and appreciate more.

Categorization of Japanese Art

Here is another interesting story.

If you are fascinated by the beauty of Sashiko, you may compare Sashiko to the other Japanese beautiful traditional art and culture. We can name numbers of them.

A – Family & Organization

  • Kabuki (Performing Art)
  • Ikebana – (Flower Arrangement)

B – Traditional Craft certified by Japan

  • Edo Kiriko (Glass Art)
  • Yuzen (Kimono)

C – Locally Traditional

  • Misoshiru – (Miso Soup)
  • Sashiko
  • Origami

Can you guess what the categorization I made for?

Category A is well known for the Japanese traditional Art (performing art). There are the “family” or “organization” to pass down the tradition. The one can be part of the family, but there is a very strict rule to follow.

Category B is known as the Japanese traditional Craft. Over the history, the Japanese developed so many traditional crafts with forming the artisans guild. The Japanese government certified those traditional crafts and trying to protect & pass them down to the next generation.

Category C is the other Japanese art, crafts, and culture which are not certified by Japan as the nation or don’t have the “Big (Celebrity) Family” to pass it down. The items I listed, Sashiko, Miso Soup, and Origamis are (were) so ordinary for the Japanese to form the organization to protect them, therefore they didn’t become the Japanese “traditional” art, crafts or culture, which leads to my saying, “There is no such a thing as right or wrong in Sashiko” because of this categorization.

It also explains why I feel unnatural to call sashiko the (Fine) art.


Let’s say, you are an American, and eat a slice of pizza regularly. Would you call a slice of Pizza as the art? Well, the artisan made a beautiful and skillful pizza for you. Would you feel a bit strange to call it the Art?

Anything can be the art. Yes.

If the artist uses Pizza to make the fine art, it can be a form of Fine Art (if the audience defines it as the art.) However, if a regular chef is merely creating the tasty and beautiful pizza, then the people started calling his work as the art, wouldn’t he feel a bit strange?

Sashiko isn’t Pizza. I understand. We cannot eat Sashiko, nor we cannot stitch pizza. However, this is the foundation of my question. I sometimes feel like people fantasize Sashiko. Sometimes, the saying sounds like the exaggerated phrase in comparison to what Sashiko is. It is perfectly fine that people understand anything from Sashiko. However, it is a different story if I, as the creator, start exaggerating what it is without realizing that I am exaggerating.

Again, I am also the one who would like to bring Sashiko to the Art. In order to do so, I need to share all of my knowledge and wisdom, then I can feel easy on moving forward.

The whole discussion is for me, Atsushi.

Thank you for reading this far. As you may have understood by now, the whole discussion of “Is Sashiko Art?” is for me. The more I read the comments I received on Instagram and Facebook, the more I understand that I am the one who would like to be the Artist.

You may say, “You can be the artist if you think so.”
Yes. It is very true.

However, the fabric I stitch on may not feel the same. The thread I am stitching with may disagree. The hand I am moving doesn’t appreciate the decision that I make. The 30+ years of experience in Sashiko is not all about stitching. It is the experience with Sashiko in my childhood. I believe I am the one who saw the Sashiko items the most in my generation.

I once cursed my fate. I now appreciate my privilege.
The artisans who I grow up with would not think of themselves as the artist. I asked Keiko if she would consider herself an artist. Her answer was as simple as “No” after questioning me why I ask her such a stupid question.
Following, she also explained a bit.

It is her pleasure that her clients (customers) think of her achievement as the (Fine) Art. However, I do not consider myself as the Artist. I simply enjoy the conversation with the fabric, bringing the “unused” fabric to the stage again where people would wear or use in their life. I am merely a Sashiko artisan.

I respect her as well as the other artisans I feel like the family to me. If I would follow their path, I would never consider Sashiko as the (Fine) Art. It is the end of the story, and I wouldn’t need to bring up the definition & terminology because the other’s perception wouldn’t change their attitude and understanding.

I, on the other hands, have both sides of understanding – Sashiko as the “merely” stitching and Sashiko as the “super cool” art.

In order to integrate these 2 extreme concepts, I needed to understand where I stand.

The culture & Tradition alter over time.

Over time, the culture and tradition alter its form. So does Sashiko.
Sashiko started as the wisdom in survival through the severe winter in Japan. The poor the Japanese were in the rural area, the more people needed to do the stitching. We call it Sashiko.

At the same time in the history, at other places where were a bit richer than the other places, the Sashiko formed its necessity as strengthening the fabric instead of mending or filling the gap. Also, over time, Sashiko changed its stance to decorative stitching for those who couldn’t dye patterns out.

Sashiko was developed as a form of stitching by the ordinary Japanese people. It is perfectly natural to observe some changes, and it is as perfectly natural to enjoy the transformation in this era by other people’s necessity and intention.

Again, we can call anything “Art” and they can define Sashiko as they want. I am not titled to accept or deny any interpretation of Sashiko. One can just grab the needle and make some stitches, then she/he can call it Sashiko.

Sashiko can be as simple as that. At the same time, however, for those who would like to enjoy Sashiko sincerely, I would like them to understand the primitive form of Sashiko. It is my fate to verbalize some of the shame the Japanese had been holding throughout Sashiko and Boro-Making process.

The Boro as the sign of Shame
https://upcyclestitches.com/tokiyama-sashiko/


Sushi started its path as the fast food for Samurai and civilians in the Edo period. The reason we use “Wasabi – the green spice” is for the bactericidal action in eating raw fish on the street. In this century, Sashiko became a synonym of Japanese food, with a hint of fancy and expensive yet healthy & popular food option available.

Sashiko can be like Sushi, too.
One day, people may call the process of “repurposing a garment” Sashiko. Or, simply, hand-stitching on a piece of fabric may be called “Sashiko”. I do not know how “we” transform Sashiko’s culture.

Regardless of the change, I believe, someone needs to keep mentioning the origin and the logical side of the traditional culture. Most of the traditional culture and craft, (which lead to the Folk Art) have a logic behind it. For example of Sushi, Wasabi is not only for the tasting. It has a role of protecting the customer from food poisoning. So is the same in Sashiko. The size of needles has the meaning. The thimble has its own role. The Sashiko thread has a completely different purpose in comparison to the other sewing thread.

When we know those “wisdom”, I believe we can enjoy the culture more and more.

Furthermore, as a sort of conclusion, this is the reason I do not categorize Sashiko in the Fine Art. Fine Art, the artist doesn’t need to explain anything (in my understanding.) It can be conceptual as well as inspirational. Sashiko… as long as I know, Sashiko still requires some explanation to be “stunningly beautiful”.

Again, please understand it is NOT about good or bad. Fine Art is fantastic, and so is Folk Art. I am here to explain the difference so that I may be, one day, start calling myself “Artist” instead of “craftsman or artisan”

*I have called myself “artist” before without knowing the definition at all… so, here I am now.

I respect not only the result but the concept behind it

I understand Sashiko is getting popular because of its simplicity, beauty, and idea of visible mending. I respect those who translated and introduced the idea of Sashiko to their own culture and developed it. One day, I would like to meet everyone who enjoys Sashiko and talk about Sashiko and its cultural meaning to us.

For me, Sashiko is a whole package of ordinary Japanese days for the ordinary Japanese people. Sashiko communicate the women’s pride in the severe condition. We can learn how Japanese people behaved throughout learning the mindset of Sashiko. Therefore, I respect not only the result of beautiful stitching but also the concept behind Sashiko.

Here is a list of mindsets I am determined to share throughout Sashiko, this website and our Sashiko Workshops. I have been saying it over the Instagram & Youtube live streaming, and I will do so in 2019 as well.

  • There is no such a thing as Right or Wrong in caring someone (and oneself).
  • The Caring is the best thing we can do. The emotion doesn’t have to be positive. It can be sometimes negative like jealous or hatred. I believe the opposite of Love is not “Hatred”, it is “Ignorance”
  • We would like to introduce a moment of “no more judging”, to someone, and especially to oneself throughout Sashiko. The Sashiko stitches are merely the result of needle movement. No one, including oneself, would judge it good or bad. Instead, we would like to think of someone who may be happy by looking at the stitches.

In summary (long story short)…

  • No right or Wrong.
  • Be mindful about what you feel.
  • No more Judgement (Observe what you do)

I believe you know an activity which satisfies the three criteria above. It is a “meditation”. I feel Sashiko is a very good meditative stitching. Probably, the Japanese people in the past used Sashiko for the meditative purpose (I don’t know if it is true). For more stories about Sashiko and meditation, please wait for my next writing.

I hope I have explained enough why and how I think Sashiko is not the (Fine) art, (yet). As I mentioned in the beginning, writing in English is always a big challenge to me. I will proofread over and over again, and probably change some of the writing. Regardless, what I wrote here is my sincere message & honest understanding about Sashiko.

Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, got inspired, or even found a problem. I am open to correct (if I find it a problem) and discuss further more.

Thank you for reading this long blog entry.

Enjoy the rest of 2018, and Happy New Year of 2019.

Happy Sashiko New Year