Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2025 R

Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2025

We really appreciate your willingness to learn Sashiko from/with us. It is our sincere pleasure to continue offering In-Person Workshop in 2025 as well. Please find the detail information about Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2025.

This blog post smmarize the schedule of Atsushi offering the Sashiko Workshop in 2025. We continue restricting the numbers of workshops we offer throughout the year to make sure that we can offer sufficient – in fact, more than sufficient – experience to the participant. Depends on the location & time, the workshop gets filled pretty quickly. In most cases, unfortuately, I will not be able to control the participants list once the workshop is filled. If you find an opening, please consider to register it at your earliest convenience.

If you have any questions about the registration & admin process, please contact to the organization & studio hosting me so that you will have good image on what you can expect

*For those who wish to learn “TODAY” rather than waiting for the In-Person Workshop, please consider taking the Sashiko Online Class (2024~2025). I am receiving many positive reviews that this Online Class can offer the same outcome of learning What Sashiko really is. Some prefer Online Class as they could proceed their learning with their own speed. I will be always over the screen to support your learning of Sashiko

*Please check this article for the Sashiko Workshop in 2024. Thank you!

Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2025

(Last Update: June 1st, 2024)

To share the Sashiko we have been practicing.


QuiltCon 2025 (Phoenix, AZ) – Feb 20th & 21th, 2025

It is another pleasure to be a faculty in QuiltCon again. This year, I will be offering Sashiko Workshop [Core & Essence], a short Version titled [Apply Hitomezashi to your Ordinary] (In-Person Version similar to Domestika Course), and a Lecture about [Why we stitch (Sashiko)].

Please check the detail below for the possible participation to Quitcon 2025 & Sashiko Workshops & lecture. (Waiting for Registration Opens).

Aya Fiber Studio (Stuart, FL) – March 7th to 9th, 2025

3-Days In-Person Workshop has become my Standard & Best Style of Teaching the Sashiko we practice, starting with [Core & Essence] and following [Application & Practice]. This 3-Days Workshop will offer fun, educational, and intensive 18 ~ 21 hours of stitching together. Plan your time in beautiful beach in FL with Sashiko.

Sashiko introduced in English often focused on “Outcomes” too much without acknowledging the Japanese mindset behind Sashiko Practice. In order to fully appreciate the culture, one needs to learn the “new muscle memory” that is quite unique to many western style stitchers. This 3 Days workshop will keep encouraging you to learn something new from both technical & mindset perspective. With receiving many positive feedbacks, we are confident that this will be an eye opening experience for you.

Madeline Island School of the Arts (La Pointe, WI) – July 2025

This is my first time to offer 5-Days Workshop. In a beautiful Campus of MISA with an appreciation to the Spiritual feeling, we will invite you to fully enjoy Sashiko. I decided to call it Sashiko Retreat.

It is quite interesting to see Sashiko being famous as a word to express “Visible Mending”. It is true that Mending is a big part of Sashiko – however, they stitched to make fabric stronger so that they can avoid the mending until the last moment. For that, Sashiko is a word for “Invisible Mending”, yet “stitching/mending” itself can heal us regardless of the result.

Sashiko is NOT similar to Zen at all, although Stitching can bring us Zen-like outcome. While explaining the difference between Zen and Sashiko, I would like to offer the realization of outside of Dualism & Western Value System.

*The contents are very similar to In-Person 3 Days Workshop, starting with [Core & Essence] and following to [Application & Practice]. You are always welcome to join even after the In-Person 3 Days Workshop & a few participants have participated the workshop as a repeater & found themselves in learning more. Please be reminded, though, that the 5-Days Workshop is composed based on [Core & Essence] and [Application & Practice].


No Workshops near your place? Invite Atsushi to Your Place

Please consider bringing Atsushi to your Group (or even to you as a private course) if you do not find a ideal location & time for you to join Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2025. Depends on the size of your group & location, this may be the best arrangement for you. Please take a look at the article below & contact Atsushi for the availability.

In most cases, when you have me for an individual group, it will be a Day workshop. I will do my best to make the day memorable & something special. Sashiko is a stitching in Ordinary, but I am confident that I can make the day extraordinary with sharing our ordinary.

Are you an organizer for a Studio/Museum?

If you are an organizer wishing to offer Sashiko Workshop with Atsushi to add Sashiko Workshops to your program, please check the “Pricing Benchmark” PDF from the link Above.

In last 7 years of experience, we have never experienced the case of “Cancellation” due to the lower numbers of participations (below the minimum enrollment). In fact, the workshop will sell out pretty quickly especially when it is the first time for the organizer to have me.

In the “New Normal” after the pandemic, many things move to “Online”. In this trend, I have strong respect for those who maintain the physical locations as Studios and Museum to offer In-Person workshops. It is my intention to contribute to your place with the best Workshop Experience.

Sashiko Online Class (24~25)

Sashiko Online Class is available for those who would like to start learning Sashiko “Right Now” from your own house/room. After offering Sashiko Workshops over the Internet for a while during the Covid-19, I am confident that I can deliver the same message & learning experience via Sashiko Online Class. I “restock” Sashiko Online Class each month, based on the numbers of participants who signed up for the specific period. If you find it available, there is no need to fulfill the waiting list.

I am looking forward to meeting you online!

More to Come for Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2026

I hope that I can keep offering the workshop in the year of 2026. For the latest information, Please follow Instagram, Business for @UpcycleStitches and Sashiko Stories for @SashikoStory for the latest update!

Good Thread for Sashiko

Good Thread for Sashiko – Updated in 2024

It is everyone’s interest to see what is Good Thread for Sashiko. I have been sharing many stories on SNS & Youtube about our sincere recommendation on Good Thread for Sashiko. It is indeed that Sashiko Thread Matters. Choosing a good thread will not only make a difference in the result of Sashiko but it also will improve the stitching experience itself. This article is an updated information about what is Good Thread for Sashiko in 2024.

*If you would like to jump to the conclusion & see what is available for purchase, please check this category. The threads listed there are all our recommendations & we use them in everyday’s stitching.

Coron Sashiko Thread – Where is it now?

Since I started Upcycle Stitches, I have been recommending “Coron Sashiko Thread” as the Best Sashiko Thread for the Sashiko Purpose. Coron Threads Manufacture.Inc is (was) a well-established & detailed manufacturer specialized in making various kinds of Threads. Where I am from (my family business) also work(ed) with them, and have been offering their wonderful Sashiko Thread.

You may find it difficult to have Coron Sashiko Thread in the last few years. Many Craft Supply Stores unlist their threads. Some even put them on sale to liquidate their inventory. Long Story Short, it is very sad that Coron Thread Manufacture. Inc doesn’t exist any longer. In the pandemic, similar to many other businesses, they decided to close their operation. It took a long time to “pass it over (revive)” to someone to continue their legacy. Thanks to many people’s help, we are now able to resource very similar (almost identical) Sashiko Threads.

We have the same thread as our recommendation – yet the Coron Sashiko Thread no longer exists. We can still use the best Sashiko Thread, yet it is so sad to see Coron Threads Company gone.

*You can see more stories with another article here on SashikoStory.Com

The Purpose for Sashiko Thread

We have been sharing the reasons why we use the “Sashiko Thread (manufactured by Coron)” as a Good Thread for Sashiko for decades. It isn’t only the materials, thickness, or colors. We have so many people & wisdom to make the Thread happens. However, in a big trend of Sashiko, Sashiko practitioners mainly focus on colors & thickness. Some even say “Threads do not matter in Sashiko. Use whatever you have”.

Well. It is true that one can use any threads for Sashiko to enjoy stitching itself. However, it doesn’t mean that we can ignore the wisdom behind long-established threads. It is so violent to tell others “whatever is fine” without acknowledging the stories behind. Some may do it unintentionally (just don’t know what it is), or worse, it seems they are misleading the information to increase their profit.

Sashiko Threads Matter – and without appropriate Sashiko Thread, some of the wisdom we appreciate today will not be promised. For example, I find some Sashiko Teachers saying “It is impossible to make both sides of fabric as identical in Sashiko”. It is impossible “For Them” because they do not understand the purpose for Sashiko Thread – and the significance of the outcome of Good Thread for Sashiko.

I do not want to repeat the same mistake

We have some memories with Coron Thread Manufacture as “Company”. They were a group of Shokunin – the respected & strict people with their own skill & tradition. It indicates that they weren’t so well prepared as “Business People” in today’s society. The issues of their business challenges, such as aging of Shokunin & finding the next heir (as they couldn’t increase the compensation like other industries), existed before the big trend of Sashiko. I knew it wasn’t going so smooth, but I never thought we would lose the Coron Thread Manufacture…

I do not want to repeat the same mistake I have made. It isn’t no one’s fault that they discontinued their business. The competition & expanding the market is a very healthy business activity. Without healthy competition, the culture won’t be secured appropriately.

The mistake I clarify here is us (Japanese Artisans) not speaking up enough. It isn’t healthy to have some non-Japanese saying “Whatever thread is fine for Sashiko” without knowing any of our Stories. Please be reminded that you indeed can use any thread for Sashiko. However, it has to be “one’s choice” – not something to teach or share with others without proper acknowledgement.

I do not know if Coron Thread would have continued their production if I spoke up more decades ago. Finding someone to take over the business was indeed a big challenge for not only Coron Thread but also many types of manufacturers in Japan (including my family business). Although I don’t know what I could have done to preserve their legacy better, I know that the voices have to be heard to protect the Culture. Telling others misleading information to control the flow of profit can cause Cultural Appropriation. Here, the acknowledgement for the stories is the bridge between Appropriation to the Appreciation. Strictly & Ideally speaking, I believe they need to learn Japanese before they start sharing some of their understanding of Sashiko – however, the world isn’t made like this. In order to speak up globally, one has to be able to do so in proficient English.

Here I am – and I will not stop speaking up to not to repeat the same mistake.

It may be Just Thread – but it is Thread

Some say “Oh, Come one. Just thread. Don’t Over React”. I have been receiving comments like this to accuse my voice – to minimize the significance of the culture. It is just thread – but there are many people who devoted their lives in to “just thread”. Sashiko is “just stitching” , yet it is stitching that many of my family & friends have spent their entire lives on.

I believe it isn’t exaggerating to say that none of our Sashiko Pieces wouldn’t & won’t be made without the Thread I talk about here. Some may say it is just a thread – but it is the thread that consist of this Cultural Sustainability. By minimizing the significance of this Good Thread for Sashiko, we face to the risk of losing much more than thread.

Cultural Sustainability in Capitalism

I speak up the importance of Cultural Sustainability in contrast to Material Sustainability. Both Material & Cultural Sustainability can be established simultaneously. It is not one or another. We also have to understand that we live in a society where we cannot ignore Capitalism. For us, the money isn’t the goal to achieve. However, money is very important vehicle to achieve the goal of preserving the Sashiko Practice. Therefore, it is critical to balance the Cultural Sustainability & Capitalism.

Unfortunately, some (or many) Japanese Craftsmanship got lost in a process of sophistication of Capitalism. The market based on demand & supply will determine the future of its product, and the demand & supply will be hugely affected by “Pricing”. If I could produce cheaper threads, the market for the thread I offer may be bigger. If the market is bigger, we can probably produce cheaper threads. It is the spiral of “marketing”, and the craftsmanship need to have different approach to the market. Sashiko Thread we strongly recommend are relatively more expensive than others. I strongly believe the pricing is fair when we compare the quality and quantity of what we offer – however, I admit it is high-end of the Sashiko Thread. The quality of production determine the pricing. At the same time, the popularity of our threads will be a very big factor of the pricing – the more people enjoy the Sashiko Thread we recommend, the lower the pricing will be. The more we can manufacture the Sashiko Thread we recommend, the bigger market we can sustain by having distributors all over the world.

What we see now is the market after we failed. However, it doesn’t mean that I can give up so easily to ig nore someone overpainting our wisdom & tradition. Your choice will secure the Cultural Sustainability I speak up. I, Atsushi Futatsuya, never will use the Revenue/Profit/Sales for the unreasonable luxury items such as Lamborghini or Rolex. I am not questioning their value as luxury items, and I do have huge respect those who can afford them. However, my goal is always the preservation of Cultural Sustainability in Capitalism. Therefore, money is a vehicle to make Sashiko somewhat sustainable. All of the profit via our online store & payment to our workshop will be used for the Sashiko’s Sustainability. The purchase of Good Thread for Sashiko here will be the great support to make our dream happen.

*Please be noted that “All of the profit” indicate the profit after somewhat satisfying our daily needs. When I have reasonable bills to pay, I may clear them first. In order to achieve this goal, I may want to think of the possibility of establishing the Non-Profit Organization. Regardless, I just want to repeat my declaration that all I do is to preserve the Cultural Sustainability that has been severely damaged (or broken) already.

Good Thread for Sashiko Exists

We can find a variety of Sashiko thread available in the market. The seller describe their thread as the “Good Thread for Sashiko” to increase their sales. It is very natural things to do & that’s what I am doing. It is us (customer & stitcher) who decide what type of future (sustainability) we want to have. So, when you choose to purchase “it”, please be mindful whom you are purchasing from. Are they actually talking from their experience or just saying to increase the sales? Do they stitch Sashiko? Do they even like Sashiko or do they like “something” they can get by saying they like Sashiko?

It is sad that Coron Thread Manufacture.Inc doesn’t exist any longer. However, their wisdom and legacy are passed over to another well-established thread manufacture. The thread we carry under this category of our store are all from the new production line – either Synthetic Dye by machine or Natural Dye by Keiko’s Hand.

Your acknowledgement, choice, and time to enjoy Sashiko with our Threads are hugely appreciated. We will do our best to preserve this Cultural Sustainability. We won’t repeat the same sad news.

Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2024

Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2024

Thank you for finding us & your interest in Learning Sashiko. Please find the detail information about Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2024. It is a summary article of when and where Atsushi will be offering the Sashiko Workshop in 2024. As you may know, I do not offer many In-Person workshops throughout the year – probably maximum of 6 workshops to prepare each workshops as well as spend some time in my own creation. I hope that you can find one to join one of the Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2024.

*For those who wish to learn “Now”, please consider taking the Sashiko Online Class (2024). I am receiving many positive reviews that this Online Class can offer the same outcome of learning What Sashiko really is. Some prefer Online Class as they could proceed their learning with their own speed. I will be always over the screen to support your learning of Sashiko

Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2024

(Last Update: March 16th, 2024)

The Way to Enjoy Sashiko More.


Textile Center (Minneapolis, MN) – June, 2024

This is my first time to offer In-Person Sashiko Workshop in Mid-West United States.

3-Days Sashiko Workshop is a comprehensive experience in Learning the Sashiko we have been practicing, starting from [Core & Essence] then to [Application & Practice]. We will have very fun, educational, and intensive 18 ~ 21 hours of stitching together.

Loop of the Loom (Dumbo, NY)

One-Day (6-hours) workshop to learn the most important element of our Sashiko [Core & Essence]. It isn’t the workshop of “Let’s enjoy Sashiko together”. It is an intensive learning experience to go through the core essence of Sashiko to start your own journey in Sashiko.


We had great time in the In-Person SashikoWorkshop below!

Aya Fiber Studio (Stuart, FL) – January 26t to 27th, 2024

Another Great opportunity to spend 3-full days with Sashiko we practice, from Core & Essence to many ways to apply to your own project. In Stuart, FL, we will have very fun, educational, and intensive 18 ~ 21 hours of stitching together. Plan your time in beautiful beach in FL with Sashiko!

*As of 2023 & 2024, this is the full package of what I teach, both [Core & Essence] and [Application & Practice].

QuiltCon 2024 (Raleigh, NC) – Feb 22th to 25th, 2024

It is an honor to teach Sashiko in QuiltCon again. This year, I will be offering Sashiko Workshop [Core & Essence], and a Lecture about [What is the difference between Quilting and Sashiko]. Please check the detail below for the possible participation to Quiltcon 2023 & Sashiko Workshop [Core & Essence].

Robert Frost Stone House Museum at Bennington College – April 13th

One-Day (6-hours) workshop to learn the most important element of our Sashiko [Core & Essence]. It isn’t the workshop of “Let’s enjoy Sashiko together”. It is an intensive learning experience to go through the core essence of Sashiko to start your own journey in Sashiko.

https://www.bennington.edu/robert-frost-stone-house-museum

**The Sashiko Core and Essence Workshop is usually priced for more than $360, but thanks to generous support from both Visual Arts and Usdan Gallery at Bennington College we have been able to drastically reduce the price of the workshop. I will look for this type of grant & support from the community.


Bring Atsushi to Your Group

Please consider bringing Atsushi to your group (or even to you as a private course) if you do not find a ideal location & time for you to join Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2024. Depends on the numbers of your group & location, this may be the best arrangement for you. Please take a look at the article below & contact Atsushi for the availability. If you are an organizer wishing to offer Sashiko Workshop with Atsushi, please check the “Pricing Benchmark” PDF from the link below.

Sashiko Online Class (24)

Sashiko Online Class is available for those who would like to start learning Sashiko right now from your place. After sharing Sashiko over the Internet for a while during the Covid-19, I am confident that I can deliver the same message & learning experience via Sashiko Online Class. I “restock” Sashiko Online Class each month, based on the numbers of participants who signed up for the specific period. If you find it available, there is no need to fulfill the waiting list.

I am looking forward to meeting you online!

More to Come for Sashiko In-Person Workshop Schedule 2025

I have several workshops pending for 2025, and hoping that I can offer a few more workshops somewhere in 2024. Please follow Instagram, Business for @UpcycleStitches and Sashiko Stories for @SashikoStory for the latest update!

Sashiko Story

Sashiko Story to share what Sashiko is for us.

Sashiko became very popular in a variety of interpretation. I am happy that many people are interested in Sashiko. However, Sashiko is more than just hand-stitching. We have Sashiko Story to share what Sashiko is for us, for the Japanese. Please follow the Instagram/Facebook Account to read our Sashiko Story. Your understanding of Sashiko is probably not wrong, but probably insufficient. I share Sashiko Stories to fulfill the missing essence.

Sashiko Story on Instagram

I make myself to share a Sashiko Story a day with introducing the photos of our Sashiko. All of the Sashiko on the photos are done by us: either myself, my mother Keiko, and/or our Sashiko friends who help our Sashi.Co project (or altogether).

Sharing Sashiko Story is a contribution I can do to the Sashiko Tradition. It is all free. Please follow the account & enjoy how Sashiko can be more than just stitching.

This is a comparison photo of back & front of one “Boro To be Jacket” we are working on. There are stories behind why we make one side “back” and one side “Front”. Sashiko Stories are the significance of the Japanese culture.

Support Atsushi’s Storytelling on Patreon

Sashiko is our life. Sharing Sashiko Story includes sharing very personal stories. Unfortunately, it is too risky to share “everything” where anyone can reach to. I have had very painful experiences caused by cruel trolls. Without many encouragement from followers & supporters on Patreon, I would have stopped sharing it. It can be too painful.

As a return to the support, I share very honest & personal stories on Patreon platform. I am willing to take a risk to share “everything” where they are willing to spend some money on what I write.

There are more than 100 articles in Patreon, and they are all exclusive. Your support to what Atsushi shares is very much appreciated.

https://www.patreon.com/sashiko

(Patreon Video is coming up soon).

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

Video about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko

I made a video about the topic of Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko. As an additional materials to learn, please check it out. Thank you!

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