Japanese Sashiko

Japanese Sashiko | Reason of Re-defining

Recently, I took an action of re-defining Japanese Sashiko by creating the new website (https://www.japanesesashiko.com/) as well as Facebook Group. My goal is to re-define what Sashiko is like for us – the Japanese – by sharing as many images of Japanese Sashiko as possible. The stories (words) are good media to describe the culture, but the images are more powerful to communicate what Sashiko is for the Japanese. It is quite sad that I have to use the word “Japanese Sashiko” since Sashiko (刺し子) is already a Japanese term. However, it is a necessary step to pass down the Sashiko we would like to share.

To be honest, it was more like an impulsive step for me after seeing many forms of interpretation of Sashiko. As much as I am open to the free interpretation of Sashiko (please check the article about “Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko”), it is very important for me to preserve the Japaneseness of Sashiko. Here, let me try my best to explain “why” it is so important for us to share the Japaneseness of Sashiko by re-define Japanese Sashiko. Please understand that it is NOT because of us trying to be the authority on Sashiko.


Japanese Sashiko may be new to you, but…

Sashiko may be new to you, but Sashiko has been a part of us for a long time – a big part of our life.

Sashiko, Upcycle, Slow-Fashion, Repurpose, (Invisible) Mending and Boro may be a series of trendy terms for someone. However, many Japanese practiced Sashiko a long time ago in Japanese history.

It (Sashiko and other hand-stitching for the purpose) isn’t the case that only happened in Japan. The culture of repurposing the fabric happened in many places in the world – especially where the people have didn’t have enough money to purchase the new fabric. We can find Sashiko as a culture because of the many good people who tried to pass it down to the next generation.


I want you to think a bit here.

Sashiko seems to be a new trend in Fashion and crafting. However, do you think the Japanese were proud of what they did as Sashiko? Some practiced Sashiko with good pride, I assume. However, at the same time, some practice Sashiko to mend the Jacket (to be called Boro later) with a sense of shame. Yes, “shame”. Therefore, it is unnatural for me to call Sashiko as the “Art”. As much as I appreciate the admiration from others of what we do as Art, and as much as I would like to lift Sashiko up to the category of Art, I cannot forget the origin of Sashiko – how the Japanese felt about it.

We sometimes only look at one perspective of matter – and then believe that it is everything. It is a form of (unintentional) ignorance that I am scared of the most. Therefore I am here to share. 

Many Japanese have (had) spent their life to pass down this beautiful and unique culture. It looks like a form of Art, and many Japanese (have) practice(d) Sashiko as the form of Art. However, as long as I can tell, we all had a sense of “Japaneseness”. It is very difficult to get rid of the Japaneseness if one is born in Japan and then lived in Japan for a long time. 

Now, the idea of Sashiko and Boro is spreading in the non-Japanese field with their own interpretation. Again, I welcome the free-interpretation. The culture is supposed to alter its form over time with mixing each other. However, as a Japanese who commit my life into Sashiko, I am determined to advocate the Japanese mindset behind the Sashiko. 

There is a lot to learn from the Japanese who lived many hundreds of years ago. 


Sashiko as more than a Trend

It is fascinating for me to see Sashiko in the world trend. I was born in a Sashiko family, and have been observing the Sashiko entire my life. This is probably the third time I see Sashiko in the trend. However, back then, we didn’t have Instagram or Facebook – not even the Internet. Therefore, the speed of spreading the trend is fascinating and somewhat scary. It wasn’t this fast (and not this shallow for that matter).

Don’t get me wrong. I am happy to see Sashiko in the trend. At the same time, however, I do not want to simplify Sashiko by the temporary and instantaneous trend. The trend is quite fragile – if the mainstream of trend ends, then the people will forget about Sashiko, which could end up with more waste and disrespect.

I believe Sashiko as a lot to offer to this world. What I thought as “normal” maybe something that the world is in need of. Therefore, I would like to tell Sashiko as a Japanese mindset, not just a trend.


Caring is what we are missing in this society

I feel, in this speed-oriented society, we forget how important “caring for the others” is. I believe, we as human beings can care the others by default. In fact, “caring” is what defines the human being. The Caring – empathy & sharing made us different from the other animals. 

However, in this busy society, we prioritize the benefit and individualism. When one’s benefit (money or status) is the first priority, then we try to exclude the others. When we apply this logic to Sashiko, someone who thinks of benefit and status may start excluding others in Sashiko as well. Therefore, I keep saying, “caring” is the key to Sashiko and please respect the Japanese mindset to pass down Sashiko – otherwise, I am okay to see any form of interpretation of Sashiko.

We can care for each other when we are mindful. I believe the human being naturally can do that. However, it is quite difficult to be mindful of our busy day. When we enjoy Sashiko, both hands are occupied with the needle and fabric. We can perceive the visual and audio information such as TV and Radio passively, but we cannot aggressively look for the information when we enjoy Sashiko. We cannot use the smartphone to get more productive or competitive when we practice Sashiko – the only aggressive thing we can do is to ask “Alexa”.

While stitching, we can be more mindful than the other time of the day. I would like to respect the mindfulness we can appreciate by doing Sashiko. Even when we become mindful of stitching, our brain does not get empty. It is important to empty your brain (no-thought) in zen practice, but it is not that natural to be completely “empty” in Sashiko stitching. I think it is perfectly fine to think while stitching – when we think without looking for the information aggressively, we think of someone – family, friends and including oneself. The care doesn’t have to be a form of Love or Joy. It could be a hatred of jealous. What I would like to get rid of is “ignorance”.

Therefore, I keep saying the importance of caring for others.



What I would like to ask you to care Sashiko

Thank you very much for reading the long article this far. I am grateful that you care about the Sashiko we would like to pass down. I have been mentioning on this website, but there are things I would like to ask you to do – if you could care about the Sashiko.

(1) Understand who you are supporting

Because Sashiko became the trend, many “business” joined the market. I can see some companies putting the name of “Sashiko” for marketing purposes. Even with the supplies, there are many dealers now who sell Sashiko supplies. Please be attentive that who you are purchasing from. The purchase directly supports what the seller does. If the money grabber seller is in the market only for the profit, then when the trend is over, they will withdraw everything they offer. It could destroy the circulation of supplies – the money grabber sellers are usually a big company that could offer a better deal in terms of pricing and customer service because of the “scale merit”. In the worse case, they may be selling something “Sashiko” without any relationship (respect) to Sashiko. Please be mindful when you purchase – you are directly choosing who you would like to support.


(2) Keep learning the Sashiko

I have a LOT of stories to share. I share them on Facebook as well as on Instagram. If you would like to support what I do, please consider joining the Patreon as well. It is a platform where I share honest insight about the Sashiko. It is also a good idea to learn the technique. Sashiko is more than stitching – and the posture and movement we share will enable you to enjoy the Sashiko as a process rather than the result.

The deeper we learn the culture and philosophy of Sashiko, the more chance we have to pass down this culture to the next generation instead of a temporary trend. Your continuous learning is the key to Sashiko’s culture


(3) Spread the words – Keep enjoying

Lastly, and most importantly, please share what I am writing here. I get many questions and comments via emails and Social Media. Some of them, unfortunately, is pretty rude. Therefore, I do not follow-up as I used to do. However, there are enough materials to read already on this website and on social media. If you are reading this article this far, you probably know where the specific articles are: if not, I share it on Patreon first.

For those who care for what I do enough in the form of respect, I will share everything I have. I hope you can keep enjoying Sashiko and keep spreading the words.

I am here for you to support your Sashiko journey.

Sashiko Patreon

Sashiko Patreon | Be Patron for our Sashiko

I have been sharing a lot of Sashiko stories (history, traditions, culture, and wisdom of Sashiko) on Instagram and Facebook. It was my pleasure to share what we are proud of and receiving many comments with respects. However, from time to time, I received some thoughtless comments that bothered me very much. 99% of the comments were encouraging, so I probably should ignore the haters… However, by nature of the core message of Sashiko we practice, I couldn’t ignore the uncomfortable comments. I wish I could help them understand why we share the Sashiko (although they did not even read what I wanted to share). After long consideration, I decided to move our platform to Sashiko Patreon Page. There, I will only share the stories with the supporters. It is not the best outcome to ask for the fee $5.00 / per month and up), I couldn’t think of other ways to filter those “thoughtless” people that I encounter. I would rather continue this journey of Sashiko Sashiko rather than completely cease spending my time on that. Here, this is a favor to ask to join the Sashiko Patreon Community to share the beautiful photos and stories about Sashiko. Also, I explain how to use the Patreon Page more efficiently to share the Sashiko we practice.


To read the Sashiko Journey on Sashiko Patreon

Most of the contents I make on the Sashiko Patreon page will be available for those who became the patron for our Sashiko activities. Once you become a patron, please enjoy our posts as Sashiko Journey and other announcements.

Sashiko Journey

I named the “story sharing” I had been enjoying on IG and FB to “Sashiko Journey”. After clicking the Post tab, please filter the posts by choosing the “Sashiko Journey” tag. You will see a list of the stories I share. Usually, the article complete as one article. No matter where you start reading, it should be enjoyable (although I recommend reading chronologically). When I would like to share the story over several articles, I will mention “To be Continued” or “Continued” on each article.

First, visit Sashiko Patreon Page (https://www.patreon.com/sashiko) and click the Posts tab.

To read the stories as Instagram or Facebook, please choose the #SashikoJourney Tag on left.

For the special deal for Patrons, please check the “Announcement” Tag on the left column.

Announcement of what we do

Besides the Sashiko Journey, I plan to share the useful information on what we do. Most of the core information is already on our website & previous posts. However, it is challenging to find the one you would like to know since the amount of writing I made is quite huge. I will optimize the information so you will enjoy what we write easily.

I sincerely appreciate the patrons. They are the one who actually took action. So, I would like to provide the priority and privilege in that Patreon community as well.


Why Patreon. Why Fee?

When I started sharing the stories about Sashiko on IG and FB, I did not expect that much return to what I did. I simply wanted to share the Sashiko we practice, the Sashiko we are proud of. It is not my best interest to ask for the fee.

However, over time, I received many “same” questions and similar thoughtless comments from the audience. I confirmed the similarity in those contacted me without thinking through. They did not read what I wrote – and asked for the quick solution or answer.

By setting the fee, I thought I could filter those who want to get a “quick” answer. If their interest is shallow, they wouldn’t spend money on reading what I share. That was the only filter I could think of to protect myself.

Also, with receiving the fee, I can be more attentive to answer the questions and requests, which I had been doing with fun on IG and FB. I will no longer answer the questions on IG and FB (unless it is a very thoughtful question). On Patreon page, I will answer pretty much all the questions about Sashiko (only cultural, historical and spiritual part of Sashiko – Please take the Sashiko workshop for the technical questions).


I sincerely appreciate your support on Patreon. I enjoy sharing what I have accumulated over 10 years, or 25 years including the childhood I was wondering in a Sashiko family environment. It seems I have unlimited words in my brain to share. The more I write, the more I would like to share. I try my best to keep sharing the quality information there.

The core of Sashiko exists in practicing (actual stitching). However, sharing the words would be so much embracing who we really are.

Sashiko Contribution

Sashiko Contribution | when you need Atsushi to write

In 2019, I experienced the steep increase of inquiries asking me to write my insight, opinion, or understanding of Sashiko in the form of the contribution to an article to magazines, brochures, and books. As much as I would like to be their help, I have very limited capacity in 2019. So here is the policy for Sashiko Contribution that I can offer.



Sashiko Contribution for Academic Purpose

If you would like to have my writing for your research in the academic organization such as a university, please contact me with your academic background, the name of the institution, and possibly the thesis statement for your research.

I am happy to contribute to the development of Sashiko in the academic setting. The Sashiko contribution will be free of charge, and I will do my best to share what I have.

Although it is free of charge to write, it would be very much appreciated if you could take the workshop Atsushi offers (In-person and/or Online).


Sashiko Contribution for Commercial Purpose

If you would like to have my writing for the commercial purpose, such as publishing a book, a brochure for your organization (including the one with Non-Profit Organization), and your business, I will ask for the fee based on your requests and the purpose for the writing. When you contact me, please offer the fee you are thinking of. I will consider your inquiry attentively and get back to you. If you are not willing to pay for my writing yet would like to have them on your media, please try to follow the basic procedure below.

Please do not handle this lightly. A page of me writing about Sashiko may sound an easy job. However, if I am the one who writes, there will be a responsibility to what I write.

I am not a professional writer. English is my second language. However (therefore), I have to be very careful in writing what I would like to communicate. I cannot just write up without careful.


Free Sashiko Contribution?

I no longer accept the Probono work. I learned that people will handle the “free stuff” very lightly and less mindfully.

However, I also understand that it is unusual to pay compensation for just simply writing. So, here is my boundary. Please follow the list below, and I will be happy to be part of your work.

  1. Take the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic), either In-person or Online Sashiko Class.

That’s it. I want the writer (author) to know what I am sharing with the Sashiko we practice. The best way is to take the well-structured workshop I offer.

Other favors to ask to have a better mutual understanding and respect would be:

  1. Support us via Patreon and read my stories
  2. provide me a few copies of publications when it is in the market

For the Probono (No fee) work, please understand that the writing itself is my property, and you will just use them as the reference on your book.


Other than Sashiko Contribution

For non-native English amateur writer like me, “Writing (leaving the solid documents)” on something deeply related to Japanese culture is very challenging and scary. There is a huge risk of misunderstanding when I do not write the paragraph attentively and carefully.

The fee is for my time to be careful and thorough to what I write. If it is a matter of you writing based on what I write (Interpretation of what I have written), then I wouldn’t ask for the fee. Again, I am not a professional writer.

In those cases, please kindly inform me that you are referring my writing (when, where and about what). Please apply the appropriate citation standard as well. I will give you permission to use as the reference, but I will not give up the copyright.


Interview as the Alternative

Phone or Video-chat interview would be a good alternative to save the fee. Although at this point, I am not sure if I should do the interview for free of charge, I would like to see how it goes. Since it will be my merely talking about Sashiko, and you summarizing what I say as your interpretation, then I wouldn’t probably need that much return in this process.

If you are interested in interviewing me, please provide the list of information below.

  • The media that you would use the interview on.
  • The list of question in advance to the actual interview
  • Why you would like to have my comments on your media.

Using the current media as References

We have many media where I share the insight, understanding, and wisdom of the Sashiko we practice. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and this website.

A lot of your questions and interests are already discussed on either media. It would be very respectful of you to look for the topic first on those media first.

Instagram to Patreon

I had been sharing many stories about the Sashiko we practice on Instagram with many photos. With some unfortunate events, I decided to stop writing so many contents on Instagram – where anyone can see and say what they want out of their mind. Instead, I will keep the journey of sharing the Sashiko insights on the Patreon, where I ask a monthly contribution so I can spend a good amount of time to share & discuss if there is any conflict.

When you are interested in the Sashiko we practice to the level of asking me to write about the Sashiko we practice, it would be so much helpful to be a supporter and read through what I have been sharing first.


I am a human after all. As much as I respect the policy I implemented here, I have a preference in who I will be working together. When you ask me questions indicating you have not read my words mindfully before, then I will be discouraged to work with you. When I can tell you read and respect what I write, then I will be happy to work with. I may accept the offer even without the fee and specific purpose on the media.

I believe what I am asking here is reasonable. When you ask for someone to spend their time, you would either need to compensate for their time, or you spend the same amount of time in knowing who you are asking for.

Thank you very much for your understanding. Enjoy Sashiko Stitching and also reading my writing on Patreon. Remember, though. The truth exists in practice (stitching).

High Context Sashiko Cover

High Context Sashiko Culture | Enjoy in between

Cultural Appropriation can be very hurtful when it is done intentionally. Although it is not less painful to see the Cultural Appropriation regardless of the situations, when it is done unintentionally, we can consider it as a good opportunity to learn each other. We all make a mistake. It is very important to accept the difference. When a person crosses the boundary of cultural appropriation unintentionally, a simple apology would be just enough. It is a good opportunity to have a cultural mutual understanding. In order to promote good cultural mutual understanding in Japanese culture, I would like to introduce the concept of High and Low Context Culture, which lead to a topic of Super High Context Sashiko Culture.

Crossing the boundary in Cultural Appropriation intentionally, knowing that could hurt the origin, would be unacceptable. However, occasionally, I observe the 2 groups stay on the different page although they both try to mean good. They hurt each other with hoping to understand each other. It is not a matter of intention. There gotta be some situation behind the communication itself. The answer can be the concept of High and Low Context Culture described by Edward T. Hall, 1976, “Beyond Culture”

Here, this is my assumption (with learning High Context Culture) for the unfortunate discussion regarding the Cultural Appropriation in Japanese culture. It may be very much affected how the Japanese language is structured. Again, I will always stand up for the Cultural Appropriation with intention of hurting and/or repainting the culture. Minimizing the culture and repainting the origin will insult the people who live in the Japanese culture. At the same time, it is our Japanese responsibility to consider why it happens -if one means good, then it may be because of the language difference.


Reading between the lines of sentences.

Japanese is the language to expect an ability to read between the lines of conversations. Edward T. Hall once described this as the “High Text Culture (Language)” in his book “Beyond Culture” published in 1976.

Here is a bit more detail. Surprisingly for English speakers, the Japanese language sometimes doesn’t require the subject and object in the sentence. Here is an example.

Let’s say you and I are enjoying a road trip. We talked about where to go but we do not have GPS on. When you want to ask me if we will get to the destination soon or not, you would say, “Are WE gonna get to the _____(destination) soon?”. 

In the Japanese language, in the same situation, you would just say “Soon, (We) get there, right? – もうすぐ着くよね?” 

In this example, the word “We” is omitted because it is already assumed mutually. We expect others to anticipate what the one is saying. 

This can get to the extreme when the relationship is close (like family or close friend). A Japanese may say, “Soon Arrive? – すぐ着く?”. It is not about being polite or not. We omit the words that are considered as a mutual assumption. Of course, it is not the polite language we also have. However, this is the matter of mutual understanding we expect in between. The more amount of information we expect to share, the fewer words are needed. 


English as the ultimate tool to communicate.

*I am not an expert in linguistics. Please forgive my misunderstanding if you find any. I am more than happy to consider re-writing.


In contrast, English is very well-optimized for the purpose of communication. Telling, “who does what, when, where and how (which)” is the fundamental of English. Even within a close family, we naturally use the subjects, and rarely omit it to avoid misunderstanding. 

English is the language with adapting so many difference in the history of immigration and globalization. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it has to be clear about what we are communicating. On the other hands, the Japanese languages were (are) mainly spoken by Japanese. We communicate based on the fact that the conversation partners know the language and culture of Japan.

It is too much to ask non-Japanese people to understand the Japanese language and the logic behind it. However, I believe, it is reasonable to ask everyone to appreciate the Japanese language when they are willing to learn the Japanese culture.

This perspective – High and Low context –  is another perspective why it is so difficult for Japanese to learn English, and the English speaker to learn Japanese.


Importance of Assumption (Premise)

When we learn about the new culture, it is very important not only learn the practice itself, but also the mindset behind it. The mindset often involves the assumption (premise). When the premise is not mutually agreed, the discussion can go very painful for both parties. 

In Japanese, as the language difference I introduced above, we expect all of the parties to anticipate the premise mutually without verbalizing it. For example, when I see someone who would like to learn Sashiko or enjoying Sashiko stitching, I naturally assume that the person is interested in the Japanese culture, and therefore, it is reasonable for me to expect that they “try” to respect the basic Japanese Courtesy.

I learned that it may not be the case all of the time. Some may be calling their stitching Sashiko without knowing it is from Japan. They may be calling only because of its image… Well, in that case, I hope they can find their own name for their stitching because Naming Does Matter as Ms.Makiko mentioned in her blog. (I will discuss this issue in the separate article).


High Context Sashiko

In fact, Sashiko requires even more “High” context for that matter. It is very challenging to find the documents that are describing the origin of Sashiko (or even practices of Sashiko in Japanese history.)

As a Sashiko artisan, I honestly expect others to anticipate to learn by watching instead of asking questions. The verbal discussion, like asking questions expecting for the answers, requires a lot of sentences. In contrast, in most Japanese traditions, the questions (and following answers) were not welcomed because a student was supposed to learn from the master by just watching it. The observation was the only method they could take back in Japan.

Expecting others to learn Sashiko by them just observing our Sashiko stitching is very inefficient. I understand that. In order to share the Sashiko we practice, I have established the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) both in-person and Online. I will answer any kinds of questions once you take the workshops.

*I wish I could do it to the general public, but because of limited capacity and that I also need to support the family, I restrict my support to who are willing to support my days & activities. For those who are financially challenging to take our workshop, please enjoy our Youtube Channel. If you are willing to learn by observing what we stitch, you can probably learn the Sashiko we practice. It may take 20x more time to understand, but possible, and again, I would like to share the Sashiko we practice to as many people as possible.


Our Sashiko Can communicate by themselves.

I believe that our Sashiko can communicate what is the importance of Sashiko and Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, even without explaining the High Context Sashiko character. We believe in the power of fabric, hand-stitching, and cares we perform on our Sashiko items.

When you enjoy the Sashiko with respecting the Japanese culture, you are already a part of High Context Sashiko. It isn’t difficult to at all to practice the High Context Sashiko. Simply, respect and care the others. When you care the others, we can all assume that we will be attentive to the boundaries. No more opinion and judgement – more empathy and cares.

Enjoy the High Context Sashiko.

KimOhNo Cover Sashiko

KimOhNo | Your Care will protect the Japanese Kimono

I feel anxious. The fear of someone overwriting the word we sincerely value is beyond the words. Kim Kardashian, a famous celebrity, launched the shapewear (solution wear/underwear) brand naming Kimono. The trademark of “Kimono” for the underwear is now under examination in USPTO. We are reacting this ridicules issue with mentioning #KimOhNo. I want you to realize what is going on with this, KimOhNo.

I had several opportunities to learn about Cultural Appropriation. I shared my conclusion to the (painful) discussion, “Why Do You Call it Sashiko?”. I encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko when you “try” to respect the Japanese culture behind Sashiko Stitching you do. Cultural Appropriation is a very sensitive matter. I do not want to discourage the enjoyment people are celebrating. However, using the public domain of the Japanese word “Kimono” is the Cultural Appropriation I fear the most. In fact, I got angry with some of the people who left the previous discussion above (Why Do You Call it Sashiko?) because of similar reasons. It is “Intentional Ignorance.” Not knowing is not the issue. They can learn it and change their mind. Ignoring the petition (and request) to respect the culture, yet not taking the action or saying “over-reacting” is the fear I feel the most.

When it happens in a small group like here, then I can just un-welcome them. However, it is very fearful to see the famous celebrity with more than 100 million followers may change the image of Kimono to the underwear. Individualism is great. Freedom of expression (art) is respected. However, it is not okay to just observe how one can change the more than a thousand of history for her own publicity. Not cool at all.

So, I asked my family to give me a time on the holiday weekend to film the video. It took so many hours to make one small video clip. So it is just a small bite of my whole message. I will continue making the video and sharing it to the world. I still have hope for the world. We can change it by taking action. Thank you for your time to watch the video, and possibly, please sign the petition someone started on the Change.org.


KimOhNo – As a Sashiko Artisan

The Video Script of KimOhNo (1)

It is my hope to deliver the messages to as large population as possible. For some of the English speakers, my English may be difficult to understand. Also, I would like to share my thoughts with the people with hearing disability. Please find the script here for the Video (1) – # KimOhNO – Your care would protect the Japanese Kimono


Hello.

Thank you for watching this video. My name is Atsushi. This may be the first time for you to find this channel. I am a Sashiko artisan – Sashiko is a form of hand stitching developed in Japan a long time ago. This is a video expressing my disappointment and even anger, to the Cultural Appropriation and Inappropriate naming for the shaping underwear brand – Kimono – by famous celebrity Kim Kardashian. 

Many people express their anger for trademarking the underwear brand with the word Kimono. There is a petition in Change.Org and I hope you would spare some of your time to be part of this petition. On top of that, as the one who practices Sashiko, I would like to share why it is not cool to name one underwear brand “Kimono”. The goal of this video and videos I plan to upload regarding this issue in future is to motivate Kim to change the name of her brand by us sharing a part of the rich history of Kimono and Japanese culture. I hope, Kim and some of those who are excited about Kimono Underwear brand, would feel embarrassed by learning how Kimono is deeply rooted in who the Japanese are. 

This is the edited version of my speech in the Sashiko Live Streaming on 6/28. Instead of chattering randomly, I will simplify my message to communicate better. This is my first time to express my own personal feeling in public. It is already out of my comfort zone, but I couldn’t be silent for this issue. Please do not misunderstand my phrasing. I will not be offended by you enjoying Kimono as Kimono. Calling the underwear brand Kimono for the publicity is the issue I am upset with.


First of all. It seems trademarking Kimono is her business strategy, the intentional attempt instead of innocent ignorance. When I first learned this issue, I thought it was because of innocent wording misusage. Kimono has, “Kim” in it. So it is somewhat understandable that she used the word Kimono. However, I changed my mind when I found out they intentionally delete all of the Instagram comments requesting to change the name with explaining this is very inappropriate. 

If this is the intentional ignorance, it is an issue of overwriting the cultural word for one’s benefit. Kim intentionally ignores our concern and disrespect the Kimono culture. She says she respects the Kimono and Japanese culture. However, without action, it means nothing. 

The word of Kimono (It means things to wear) established its meaning as “Japanese clothing” when the western clothing was introduced to Japan. To distinguish them, western clothing was called Yofuku, and the Japanese Clothing called Wafuku – and Kimono. 

Not many Japanese wear Kimono in ordinary days anymore. However, we enjoy Kimono on a special occasion such as a wedding, celebration for the children’s growth, and Coming of age ceremony. We associate our precious memories to the clothing – Kimono. Japanese naturally accept the concept of Animism – the thing has its the spirit in it. So, Kimono is not just the name for the clothing. It is more than disposable, purpose-oriented, wear. It carries memory and spirit, therefore it could be our identity.

Although we do not wear Kimono every day, we try to pass down this culture to the next generation by wearing Kimono on those special occasions. Kimono often get pass down from a mother to a daughter and grand-daughter. For Japanese, Kimono is not a brand name. It is no-one’s property. It is our identity to respect who we are. 

Therefore, the intentional ignorance to overwrite the wording Kimono for one’s business is not cool. I hope I can communicate her “horrible taste” in naming and motivate them to feel embarrassed for supporting her brand.


By the way, I understand that Kim and her surrounding do not represent western people. I sincerely appreciate those who support and encouraged me over youtube and Instagram.

The more people get interested in Japanese culture, the more non-Japanese dress up with Kimono. I believe it is a very beautiful thing. They respect the Japanese culture and Kimono, and they enjoy wearing it. I never thought that the non-Japanese enjoying Kimono is an issue of Cultural Appropriation. In fact, I appreciated it. However, naming the underwear brand Kimono, in which there is absolutely no connection or respect to Kimono culture, is not acceptable. 

I will continue expressing my feeling on Youtube, with more stories and reasons that I had shared on the Live Streaming. Please leave the comment if there is anything I can cover explaining the KimOhNo Issue. I am just a father with a regular responsibility to support the family, so I may not be able to reply to your comments in a good timely manner – but I will do my best to follow-up and answer the questions.

Lastly, from a legal point, I would like to share why it is important for us to speak up now. I went to the USPTO database and confirmed the application filed by the company Kimono Intimates. USPTO has not assigned the trademark to the exclaimer, but there is a possibility. Therefore, before it gets too late, the voice from “ordinary yet important people like us” is important to change “rich celebrity” who thinks she can own everything. I trust and respect the United States. I live in the US to contribute to this country. I hope we can laugh about her ignorance later on,  but it already happens, your voice means a lot to the Japanese today.


[Personal note]

Well. This is a more personal note. I may be picking a fight now to Kim’s followers.  I am not happy with Kim. But more honestly, I am so surprised and disgusted by those who keep supporting Kim by leaving the comment with excitement how the solution wear is good for them. It may be. I don’t know the quality of the product itself. However, after so many comments with asking to change the name and some articles in a major publication like NY times, some people are still happy with that? I know many people encouraged Japanese for this petition, but 100 million followers are all happy about this? 

  • When did the world become so ignorant?

Now when we google the word Kimono, we can see “Kimono like” fashion. It is not preferable to see someone making money selling their item calling Kimono (or looking like Kimono) instead of traditional Kimono. However, Kim’s case is worse because her solution underwear will be the first image when we google the word Kimono when this trademark is accepted. Underwear instead of Kimono. Come on.

  • I would like to “Wow” the world with sharing more authentic photos.

It is our responsibility to share what Kimono really is.

The Japanese are not good at that, I am not good at that neither – especially those traditional fields are mainly operated by elderly people. They do not speak English. They follow the Japanese mindset that avoiding conflict. So do I. I am scared and embarrassed talking about my own feeling so much in public. However, I couldn’t be quiet, especially because I value what I do – Sashiko. I am not a Kimono professional. I do not make a living with Kimono. However, I do respect kimono throughout Sashiko culture. Please. Please respect the Japanese culture to protect its original form.

[日本語でご覧の皆様へ] KimOhNo

こんにちは。米国で刺し子を紹介している二ツ谷と申します。

今回のキムカーダシアンの「矯正下着を着物」とするブランド名の件、沢山の方が声を挙げられているのをみて、勇気を出して顔出しで動画を作成しています。「着物は下着じゃない!」という多くの声には、KimOhNというハッシュタグと共に、勿論賛成するのと同時に、何点か説明ができればと思っています。

Trademark – 商標について。

6月30日現時点で、USPTO – 米国の特許庁のデータベースを確認しました。キムさんの会社と思われるKimono Intimates が10点以上の商標を申請をしていて、特許庁はその書類を受け取っています。ただ、まだ確定されたわけではなく「3ヶ月ほどの審査」とペンディング状態になっています。だからこそ、今、声を上げれば、まだ世論に訴えられるかもしれません。

10点以上の商標申請の上、内容も細かいので、専門家ではない僕には理解が難しいところではあるのですが、申請の許可が下りればKimonoという言葉は、彼女の会社の所有物になります。簡単に見た所、今の着物そのものに商標規制が入るかどうかはわかりませんが、「Baby Dall Pajamas」と申請の一つにあるので、もしかしたら人形に着物を着せるという女の子の遊びができなくなってしまうかもしれません。

今回の件、「着物はあまり着ないから……」と簡単に考えないでほしいのです。文化の塗り替えが起こってしまうとんでもない危機的状況です。着物の専門家の立ち位置から、今回の問題を丁寧にご説明下さっている方がいるので、是非「すなおの着物チャンネル/Kimono-Sunao」を御覧ください。そして、声をあげて下さい。Change.Orgから署名ができます。

尊敬する方の言葉にこういうものがあります。「私達は微力かもしれない。ただ、決して無力ではない。」

今回の件、署名は勿論のことですが、「世界に日本の素晴らしい文化を知ってもらう」必要性もひしひしと感じています。美しい着物やその写真、他の誇れる文化を紹介することで、着物という言葉を私物化しようとしているキムさんが、「それ、ダサくない?」と他から思われるような流れを作っていけたらと思っています。他人事だとは思わずに、是非声をあげて頂ければと。もし僕で英訳をして、情報発信できることがあれば、時間の許す限り頑張ろうと思っています。4歳児を米国で育てる共働き一家なので、どれだけ時間が取れるかはわかりませんが、日本人としてのアイデンティティを守りたい気持ちは、きっと僕の家族も理解してくれると思うので。

どうぞ引き続き、宜しくお願い致します。

Authentic Boro Cover

Authentic Boro ? |What defines Authenticity in Boro

The word “Boro” in textile gets its popularity day by day. Boro means a piece of rag (torn fabric) with patches and mending. With its concept of up-cycling the fabric and the beauty of patch-working, many textile artist/practitioner enjoy the hand-stitching patchwork with inspiration from Boro. I enjoy the unique interpretation of Boro and the result of interesting patchwork. Many people respect the original culture of Boro. I really appreciate that they refer their work as “Boro-Inspired” work. The question you would have is, however, what is the Authentic Boro, then? What defines Boro as authentic? Can we make the authentic Boro today?

This is my insight as a Sashiko practitioner who sincerely respects the Japanese practice that leads the Boro as a result.

*Please find the link to learn more about Boro at the end of this article.

Authentic Boro

Impossible to make the Authentic Boro?

The authentic Boro pieces (Jackets and rag) we can look at the museum are made many years ago. The poverty and repetition of mending the fabric created its authentic beauty over so many centuries.

The faded color (one of a kind color) the time created. The patch-worked fabric with fraying (or even falling) thread. The fabric which the Japanese used almost every day heavily and kept repairing for the purpose of survival is the definition of Authentic Boro (in my opinion). The fabric has to be continuously used and repetitively repaired. I believe it is the basic definition of authentic Boro.

The Japanese spirit in appreciating the fabric and all the pride to be beautiful (even in the severe circumstance) made such a unique and beautiful textile.

So, technically speaking, it is impossible to make the authentic Boro tomorrow. It requires enormous numbers of patching and fixing. The color would need to be fade in the Sun and regular wear and tear (fiction). In this textile rich society, the maximum we would comfortably enjoy would be the “Boro Inspired” patchworking. There is nothing wrong with that.

However, I believe, we can try to follow the path to make the Authentic Boro. In fact, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and I try to recreate the Boro with the vintage swatches which are too small to be a good Boro piece.


Boro in an ordinary day – Authentic

Since we believe the authenticity of Boro is defined by 2 categories, (1) being used regularly for a long time and (2) repeatedly mended as needed, we try to follow the process by making and using the Boro Jacket and Boro rag (placemats or throws).

We believe that Boro is the result of ultimate repetition of Sashiko stitching. We are Sashiko artisans so it is not a problem to keep stitching and mending. So Atsushi tries to wear the Jacket below, and when it gets damaged, we simply mend it as the Japanese many centuries ago would have done similarly.

The Boro fabric itself is quite fragile already, so it requires the continuous care. Therefore, we also share how to make a good Sashiko stitching not only to stitch the beautiful pattern but also enjoy the process of stitching.

Authentic Boro 2
Front of Authentic Boro (To be) Jacket. I am wearing it daily and trying to follow the original practice. We hide patches inside (since patching was a sign of poverty and it triggered shame.
Authentic Boro 3
we do not remember how many times we practiced stitching on. However, it is not the “final” version. We wear that and keep mending it over and over again.

*The more photo is available at our New Sashiko Portfolio.

Authentic Boro can be dirty and smelly

Do you know that the final destination of the fabric is not the landfill? The Japanese used to say, “Use the fabric until it dissolves in the water”. When the one keeps using the cotton fabric over and over, like Zokin (雑巾 – cleaning rag *1) the fabric starts fraying and being like a liquid. Don’t take me wrong. I know it is disgusting. However, please understand that the Boro is one step before the fabric dissolving in the water. So, many Authentic Boro can be very dirty and smelly – and sometimes, it is not washable because it is too fragile that the balance of patchwork will be completely destroyed by one single gentle hand-washing. (Trust me. We have done that…)

Fresh Boro it is

So, we call our Boro (to be Authentic) piece as Fresh Boro. It is ironic naming because Boro means “tattered”, opposite of fresh. In order to recreate (revive the process of) the authentic Boro, we would need to use it repeatedly. It means that the fabric has to be in a washable condition. When we obtain the vintage fabric, we wash them thoroughly and make sure it is strong enough to be patched on our existing Boro. I also introduce what is the good vintage fabric for the Boro (to be authentic / Inspired) project.

This may introduce another perspective of Boro. Does the fabric have to be the Japanese vintage fabric? The answer is “Not at all”. It can be any fabric and any garment we have. While I “age” this interesting Boro Jacket by mending, I enjoy mending & patching my own denim. The boro project doesn’t have to be Japanese-related because the core principal of Boro is to appreciate the fabric. Repurposing the garment with a purpose of lasting longer would make a fantastic Boro many years from now.


I hope I shared my knowledge and wisdom clearly here. Please understand, any kind of Boro-related project with respecting the Japanese culture & appreciating the fabric would be just fine. The Japanese (including myself) would be offended by anyone calling their stitching Sashiko or Boro as long as they try to understand the origin. I am here to share the information and technique associated to Sashiko as the process, and Boro as the result.

Enjoy Sashiko & Boro as the result.


References Links for Boro and more

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

Mindful Reading – Follow up of Why Do you Call it Sashiko.

Thank you for all of the comments for the previous post, “Why Do you Call it Sashiko?“. I learned a lot from your insights. Many comments encouraged me to keep my journey. Don’t worry. I will not change anything to share the Sashiko we enjoy.

To be honest, the original discussion was a confusing & heartbreaking one that I didn’t expect. I moved on, thanks to many heartwarming and constructive advise. Yet, however, for the purpose of improving my understanding of both Japanese and non-Japanese culture, I cannot stop thinking of the possible missing link that I couldn’t realize. Some part of me says that I could have communicated better within these 3 Budda’s smile phases (not after the 3 strikes). I know it sounds crazy to you, but hey, I am a Japanese after all, who naturally feel shame on things to worry if they may have embarrassed themselves or not.

I have been thinking and thinking, though days and nights, I may have found the missing link. 


Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.

The missing link is the word I came up with: “Mindful Reading

* (I apologize if I am using someone’s word. I do change the name if it is not appropriate.)


“Why do you call it Sashiko?”

From this sentence, when you read it at first glance, what do (did) you think (feel)? I sincerely hope that you understood my intention of “a pure question out of curiosity” with reading the before & after contexts instead of the “Atsushi – accusing – you” comment, like “how can you call it Sashiko”. There was no intention to accuse anyone and anything they do. I simply wanted to know what is the motivation and reasons (why) they call their stitching Sashiko, only because they did not try to understand the Japanese culture or characteristic.

Over reading their comments many times, I came to one hypothesis: what if they read the sentence, “why do you call it Sashiko?” (by without getting the context) as an accusation? then, the question itself triggered their defensiveness? Moreover, what if, in the Western (American) culture, it is not okay to ask about the personal motivation or reasons, although it is okay (or even recommended) to ask the technical or knowledge-based questions?

What I received as their offensive comments are not still okay because I provided enough polite explanation (contexts) of why I pointed out the concern. Many comments I had received from the previous post assured me that my English was not a significant problem. However, I thought, this hypothesis may a good start to find the missing link that has been bothering me. This realization leads me to the keyword: Mindful Reading.


Before explaining about the Mindful Reading and Quick reading in contrast, as a side note, I would like to share the comment I receive in the post I asked: “why do you call it Sashiko?” I received a comment saying: “I use the word for the Instagram hashtag.” I liked how pure it is. I am NOT offended by this comment at all. Since my goal is to share the Sashiko AND Japanese culture, I asked him if it is possible to try to understand Japanese culture. He generously says “Yes”.

This “Yes” is all I wanted from the original discussion. I asked the person in the original discussion to practice Sashiko (move hands for some amount of time) first instead of asking many questions, then ask thoughtful questions. Asking the questions is not the problem. Asking questions without thinking of someone’s time (the possibility of troubling someone) is one of the “non-appreciated” action in courtesy of Japan. If the person says “I am doing Sashiko”, I wanted them to try to understand this courtesy of Japan.

Unfortunately, the discussion didn’t go that way. So I started wondering why they call their stitching Sashiko. I honestly and sincerely didn’t understand why – which I still don’t. I can only guess the other reasons such as “because it looks pretty” or “I just saw it”. Anything is acceptable. Only thing I don’t understand is why they do not provide me their response… (Well, I got one answer that she thinks what she does is more like an embroidery – then I replied her that I had no problem then if she thinks what she does is an embroidery).

I kept thinking and thinking, then I realize that reading is a subjective action. It reflects how the person usually perceives reality and react to the events. The contexts and my polite explanation didn’t matter because they acted as their unconscious behavior.

Well. That’s why I would like to share the importance of the Sashiko as the process, not only the result or practical techniques.


Sashiko as a mindful stitching.

I see many people enjoy Sashiko as the mindful stitching. Although I am not sure if the Sashiko was developed as the way to be mindful, like meditation, I feel the same for the Sashiko as the mindful stitching. In fact, I enjoy the meditative characteristic of Sashiko stitching, and it influences my other daily activities. Sashiko helps us to be mindful in other activities.

So, I would like to share the concept of Mindful Reading.

I would like to use the word of Quick Reading in contrast to the Mindful Reading. Mindful Reading may be described in other terms such as careful reading, slow reading, or as my favorite, a dialogue to the author. Quick Reading may be described in other terms such as efficient reading, speed (fast) reading, or personal preference based reading.

In this my personal description, Quick Reading is the key to be successful in this world. I personally enjoy the Speed-Reading (Photographic Reading?) in Japanese, and I used to read at least a book per day. I enjoyed the amount of knowledge and information I could accumulate in my brain – I felt that I was reaching to the success (that I defined – pretty much money and wealth) every-time I read. I still enjoy it when I make a research on specific subject.

Ever since I started practicing Sashiko as my life mission, I naturally withdraw myself from doing the Quick Reading. It is interesting to realize this difference after 5 years of my reading habit transformation. Again, I still do the Quick Reading when I choose. However, in daily life, I try to be mindful when I read someone’s writing. (This may be significantly affected by the Inter-cultural marriage life. It isn’t easy sometimes. hahaha.)

I would like to recommend the beauty of Mindful Reading for those who would like to practice the Sashiko. I am not saying you should learn how to meditate and sit down on the floor when you read. It is just about being mindful (that you are there with the book) while you read. You may question yourself if you are reading what the author intended to write. You may ask a question to the author in mind, and the author may describe it later on in their writing. Mindful Reading makes a beautiful dialogue between you and the book (or blog, writing, or even a memo on the post-it).

Does it sound difficult for you to practice? Don’t worry. there is an easy way to practice Mindful Reading. “Breath slowly intentionally & fully” when you read. The slow breathing will remind you that you are there to read.


We (the human being) used to search for the information by reading books or records. Now, we choose the information because of the Internet – too much information available. The more information is required to be successful, then it leads to the necessity of increasing the speed in reading. For efficiency and productivity, in such a busy day, Quick Reading is a must-have skill to be “better”.

However, with Sashiko as mindful stitching, I here sincerely hope to share the beauty of Mindful Reading. I occasionally feel that I am talking to the author when I read – even when I read the novel. It gives me so much appreciation and insight.

With the Internet and speed-oriented society. some of the writing does not deserve the Mindful Reading. You may end up with wasting your time with Mind Reading by reading some trashy writing. It is okay as the learning opportunity. However, for those who practice Mindful Reading, I am pretty sure you can distinguish the writing worthwhile for the Mindful Reading. One exception would be the writing in another language and from other culture. The author may be writing in the non-mother language. In that case, the Mindful Reading will provide more insight from. As my personal impression, the writer has to be pretty mindful when they write sentences in the non-mother language 🙂

SNS is a bit difficult place to do Mindful Reading, again, because not many writers are in the status of mindfulness. However, defining that “All of the writing in SNS are not worthwhile for Mindful Reading” is also not in a category of being mindful… I assume.

We all make mistakes

As my conclusion, the original discussion missed the concept of Mindful Reading. I asked them to read my comments several times, and they said they did. They indeed did read my writing, but not Mindful Reading. Therefore I felt confused by 2 different types of feedbacks – many feedbacks of saying I have nothing wrong, and a few saying that I am rude. This confusion may be explained by the categorization of Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.

*When I write this kind of article, some of you may feel that you did Quick Reading and feel sorry for not doing the Mindful Reading for my writing. Well, do not be sorry because the feeling you had for me is already a dialogue between me and you. It is Mindful Reading. Also, the person with only Quick Reading ability wouldn’t be reading the whole article – because it is too long and the sub-heading tells “another story”. (It is interesting if you get my trick here.)


I welcome any feedbacks

It would be so helpful to share your insight here. Some say that I do not welcome any questions and feedback, but I do. Criticism and questions are both welcome as well. If you ask a question, please think through first so if you are not troubling my time more than necessary (Courtesy of Japan). If you make a criticism, please provide the concrete reasoning and examples backing up your criticism. I got some comment (on FB) that I am rude at some posts, but they never provided me the actual posts I shared… so I cannot even self-reflect and prepare for an apology because I don’t know what they are referring to.)


I also learned that some may think that I am trying to be an authority in Sashiko. I have a favor to ask for this – please try to understand that I am just a man who happens to be good at Sashiko. It is perfectly fine when someone gives me the title of Artist, but I really don’t consider myself as the artist or Sashiko master.

I write a lot of my philosophy on Instagram. It would be nice to follow, and when you have time, please check the post I made already there.


[Side note] I want you to listen…?

I have been happily married for about 9 years with a western woman. It is a marriage, so we have numbers of arguments and discussion, and I always learn something from them (by admitting that I was wrong. lol. just kidding.)

One of the significant learning was that: when she says, “Hey, I want you to listen”, then start talking about her day, it does not mean that she is asking for my reply nor advise. She just wants me to listen.

In Japanese culture, this doesn’t happen often because not many married couples talk like we do in the western culture (in my understanding – of course, depends on the couple). The wife doesn’t ask him to listen much. She doesn’t even expect him to listen even though she may keep talking to him.

I did the same once – pretending that I was listening to my wife. It was a bad idea. So I changed my understanding that I need to listen carefully when she ask me to listen. So I nod and say some exclamation words as naturally as possible (it wasn’t my strength). I shared my caring and I did care what she said. However, in my cultural understanding, caring required some participation – so when we got into the fight by me commenting on what she wanted me to listen, it was total confusion.


This is an example of how “cultural difference” can affect communication. Being mindful is a great way to mend the troubles. I accept to change myself in any situations because I choose to marry a western woman and live in America. Since we are talking about Sashiko, the Japanese stitching form developed in the Japanese culture, I would like to ask anyone who enjoys Sashiko to “try” to understand the Japanese mindset bt being mindful what they are reading, listening, and enjoying.

Again, when I said, “why do you call it Sashiko?”, I asked from the out of pure curiosity. It is still the same. I am very curious why the person call their stitching Sashiko (if they do not try to understand the Japanese culture). If your answer is “because I like Sashiko and would like to (try to) understand Japanese culture”, I am here with you. If not, I would like to know why you call it Sashiko so I can learn from you and move closer to you.

I hope this article cleared some of the confusion. It certainly did to me like “Aha!” moment.

More Caring Society

To more Caring Society | therefore Sashiko

This article is more like my (Atsushi’s) personal note – may be unrelated to Sashiko. However, I wanted to share my feeling, ultimately to share what the Sashiko we like is – to Caring Society.

While I was writing the article about “asking for the support in Sustainable Sashiko Community“, I realize that I was contradicting in myself. I saw a big gap between “What I hope” and “what I do”. So, this is my penitence to the past and declaration toward the future: To make and live in “More Caring Society”.

more Caring Society main
A hand to more Caring Society

When did we start expecting SO MUCH

I admit that I sometime became a monster-like customer.

When I received an item lightly damaged, I contacted Amazon right away to ask for the “replacement” the next day since I was planning to gift it on the same day. The Amazon is nice (well-organized or big) enough to accommodate the request. But… come to think of it, it is so much to ask for covering an unfortunate event by asking the next day delivery for free. (I hope) no one didn’t mean to damage it. The accident could happen. After all, I should have prepared the gift a lot before the party.

When my Apple mouse started moving strangely under the AppleCare+ term, I contacted them as if it is their responsibility to “fix” it right away. (I have to admit that I was very frustrated because I needed to work on the sensitive photoshop work). I told them my frustration, and I was probably not nice at all. For some reasons, I expected them to fix it, otherwise compensate me for the “uncaused” damages by them (like the hours I had to talk to them when I am super in hurry.)


Probably, I did more of those “crazy” monster-like behaviors to the customer supports. I don’t even remember, and it scares me even more. When did we (or only I?) became so much perfect to expect more from the others?

Yes. It is a customer’s right to demand the item he/she orders in the perfect condition. It is also the company’s responsibility to deliver the item as they promise. Since there is a financial transaction in the order process, the company should deliver what they promise and the customer should get what they paid for.

However, do we really believe that everyone is supposed to be that perfect? If the company (seller) describe the item description accurately, and receive the item (with customer’s misunderstanding), would it be the seller’s responsibility?

You may say it is crazy, but in this e-commerce world, the customer has more power since they have power to leave the review. For a seller operates business online, the reviews are the powerful (and therefore critical) influence to their activities. In order to have better review, the seller provide more service than they are responsible, and the result, we start expecting more and more as the customer.


It isn’t about who is right and wrong

I am not talking about being a monster-like customer is the wrong thing. It is a result of everyone’s choice. The seller wanted to please the customer “no matter what”, and the customer chooses the seller which accommodate everything they expect. So, the seller made this culture of “high-standard customer service.” However, I would like to share a bit of trick behind.

Before the Internet, in order to sell an item, the seller needed to know about the items so they can provide the follow-up. In a store, the seller would advise or talk about the items, then the customer purchases them with good understandings. My family in Gifu Prefecture operates shops to sell pretty much everything about Sashiko. We are the seller, and we are also the Sashiko professionals who have good experience in Sashiko & related field. The customer respected it and trusted our advice. We did our best to meet (& exceed) customer’s expectation. The business was as simpl as that.

After the Internet, a lot of “good-trusted ritual” was (about to) wiped away by the convenience. Anyone can sell pretty much anything now (unless it requires the license). For that condition, the more capital the seller (company) have, the better the customer service & pricing they can provide. Of course, we as the customer become so demanding because we can just talk to the “employees” who aren’t even the sellers himself/herself. (I respect those customer center’s job. I don’t know if I can do that.)

Book stores would be one example of this social shift. I live in the Central PA, and we are fortunate to have the local bookstore – Otto bookstore. The movement of “Support Local” would be our natural reaction to this convenience. We as customer also need to pay attention who are the seller, if the seller are the one who have missions rather than making money.


At some point, I believe, the buyers should start thinking of “customer ethic” and the seller should start “being proud of what they provide” instead of focusing on their “convenient” customer service. I may be wrong, but I feel it is too much negativity on Internet regarding the shopping (because many people leave the negative feedback when they are disappointed – not many people leave the positive review when they receive what they expected, which is a superb thing). I think I can say that because I am also a customer.


There are human behind the monitor

We can make such a scary monster-like demand because we kind of forget that they are human (like us) behind the monitor or over the phone. A consequence by behaving with hostility won’t hurt us because the person is not in front of us. Would we do that when we have them in front of us? At the same time, we don’t leave positive feedback because there is no incentive us to do so.

Hey, when did we become so shallow?

I share the culture of Sashiko. The more I share this Japanese hand-stitching culture, the more I learn how we, as human being, were before the Internet. I love Internet. I cannot live without it. However, it doesn’t mean that we should give up the caring society over the convenience.


“Speed”

“Problem Solving”

and therefore we need,

“Innovation”


Yes. We need it to be speedy, solving the problems, and therefore innovative. However, I will let the other to take care of it. I will focus on the other side of humanity.

“Care”

“Self-Acceptance (Less Judging)”

and therefore we will appreciate

“The moment (mindfulness)”


I decided to marry my wife when she told me one phrase. “I love who you are, not what you do.”

It is very difficult to have “unconditional love” to the others, even to the family or someone very close to you. However, when we can care and respect “another human” who we come across, the world may be a bit better place to enjoy.

Sashiko is only a simple form of stitching. However, in a process of stitching for hours of times, we “remember” who we are. In stitching, the stitcher talks to oneself. No googling for the answer continuously, or no comparing oneself over Facebook. It is a quiet time to enjoy feeling who you are.

We welcome anyone to be part of this stitching. I am here for that and the reason I am translating everything I have in my mind in form of wisdom.