Difference Sashiko and Boro

Difference Sashiko and Boro | Sashiko Story Vol 2

I am happy to continue this journey of making the Video Log with Sashiko Stories. Here is Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 2 | I am talking about the Difference Sashiko and Boro.


Below, you can find the script I used for this video. Please leave your comment if you have any questions.


Personal Opinion | What Difference Sashiko and Boro

The word of Boro became so famous among those who enjoy Japanese vintage fabrics in the last few years. Some art dealers found the beauty of Sashiko, and it is getting the name value on them. The authentic Japanese Boro, especially the large pieces, acquired many recognitions and frequently got good pricing.


At the same time, hand-stitchers like us enjoy the beauty of Sashiko and Boro as the creators (makers). One of the most frequent questions I get in the Sashiko workshop I offer is today’s topic. What is the Boro? What is Sashiko? And What is the difference Sashiko and Boro?


It is a bit of challenging to clearly define what Sashiko and Boro are because they were for the ordinary Japanese people and they didn’t leave many documents. It was too ordinary to make it official. Therefore, not many valid documents are found to make the universal definition. I have tried to explain the meaning, understandings, and stories regarding Sashiko and Boro on my website as the blog post. (Please check them when you have time. Upcycle Stitches .com)

Here, let me share my basic understanding of Sashiko and Boro. Again, since there are no official documents found regarding the definition, it is merely my understanding of the words based on our experience in Sashiko.

My understanding is.

Sashiko is a form of stitching, a process of needlework. The Boro is the result of continuous & ultimate repetition of Sashiko.

In other words, Sashiko can be a verb in Japanese. We occasionally say that we “do Sashiko”. In contrast, Boro doesn’t become a verb in the Japanese language. We do not say that we do Boro. Boro in Japanese originally means merely the piece of torn & dirty fabric.

Does it make sense? It is more like a terminology explanation.


Stories of Difference Sashiko and Boro


Let me share some of the stories about Boro.

As you may have learned already, Sashiko and Boro are developed in poverty, a poor community in Japan.

Here is a story.
One farmer wears a Jacket every day. When it gets a hole or tear, his wife mends the jacket with hand-stitching “so-called Sashiko”. They did not have a choice. They had to repair it with the fabric they kept from the past because they didn’t have enough money or asset to purchase the new fabric. The man’s wife kept repeating the mending throughout his entire life, and when his son is old enough to take over the man’s job, the jacket was passed down to the next generation. The result of this repetition became a Boro Jacket, in which you may be able to see in a museum or a gallery.

It was, therefore, purely for the practical purposes for retaining the warmth, protecting the skin from the sun-shine or scratch from farming work and pretty much for surviving.

Because of this “purpose oriented beauty”, some people call Boro as the random beauty. It could be true. It is not the same as the patchwork or decorative stitching in which the artist (or creator or stitcher) can choose the materials from a variety of choices.

I respect those who implement the concept of Japanese Sashiko and Boro and make the patchworks looks like that. I also respect those who mend denim or Jacket with a hint of Boro’s design. You may wonder if I call them Boro or even authentic Boro?

Well, with the sincere respect, I would call them either “Boro-inspired Art” or “Boro Inspired Mending.” Please do not get me wrong. I respect them as much as I respect to the Boro from the past, but there is a bit of difference. It is not right or wrong, or better or worse. They are just a bit different.


Is it really Random?


So, let me talk about the “Randomness” of Boro.
Is it really at Random? I do not believe so. It is true that they didn’t have enough materials to be artistic. They didn’t have enough materials to choose from.




However, I feel that they had a pride… or basic human desire to make things more beautiful. The Boro pieces I admire have their emotions, including joy, anger, sadness, and happiness from their ordinary days. Because of this emotion behind the Boro, they look so beautiful and artistic, I believe.
It is our nature to be fashionable and pursue the beauty, even when we are in the severe condition like not being able to get the new fabric.


We, Sashi.Co & Keiko, and also my project, Upcycle Stitches, try to follow the route of this Boro. Interestingly, it is kind of difficult to find the vintage fabric from the same era. It is very similar to the Japanese in the past who couldn’t get enough fabric.

When we collect the enough “Boro-to-be-fabric” we try to be as creative as possible. We also try to synchronize our “feeling” to the Japanese who probably did Sashiko as we do now.

Most importantly, we try to “think of” others when we make the Boro. The Boro has a story, and even when we make a piece of Boro, we add the stories to the fabric. The process of stitching, by adding the stories (so-called emotion) to the fabric is called Sashiko, and the result of “caring” someone, including ourselves, is called Boro.

I hope my understanding of Boro and Sashiko help you to understand yours. This is a very big topic to cover. I will come back with other stories to share.


Related Articles for Difference Sashiko and Boro

Introduction of Sashiko

How to Start Sashiko | A tutorial from Sashiko Artisans

BORO | Textile Art from Ancient Japan

Sashiko and Boro | Translation from Sashi.Co Article

12 thoughts to “Difference Sashiko and Boro | Sashiko Story Vol 2”

  1. This was so interesting! I’ve done sashimi stitching, but am anxious to try Boro. The thing that impressed
    me the most was the respect you have for this old tradition, and it’s relationship to thinking of others. Well done.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information with us. Your respect for the past pieces of the work is a great inspiration. I will be looking for any information you offer with great gratitude.

  2. Thank you very much for this very interesting video. It’s a lovely technique and the story behind genuine Boro is very moving. The jacket your mother made is beautiful.

  3. the japanese aesthetic is a marvel unique. the beauty of boro, its evolution of caring, emotion and history preserved in fabric is a treasure of time travel. it is the utility of poverty transcended. reminiscent of American patchwork quilts-born of the same utility and desire to transcend. silk from a sow’s ear for sure. thanks for this wonderful opportunity to learn from you, from your passion for this underrated art. and you are lucky to have such a caring and talented mother!

    1. Yes, Indeed, it is a privilege to have such a talented artist as a mother (that can be a nightmare as a child of the artist mother…)
      It happened everywhere in the world. We happened to have names for it, and we somewhat preserved them.

      Thank you for your comment.

  4. This technique makes all the difference between a botch job and a repair to be proud of when mending denim. 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for supplying a text!
    Whether or not I personally find video(s) useful, it takes time, effort and care to write,
    and, importantly nowadays,
    less (bandwidth, download-processing and server-usage) means less wasteage of energy plus heat
    to affect the environment!
    Your (text) is informative, helpful, and written nicely,
    and I am appreciative.
    Thank you again,
    Simon Smith,
    (Plymouth, G.B.)

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