In an ordinary village in Japan, Sashiko (or something similar) existed. It is about the past. Many Sashiko Stories seem to be buried in history without names. Various kinds of Sashiko we can enjoy today are mostly “revived” versions of the Sashiko based on their local voice & stories. Most of the Japanese who had to practice Sashiko discontinued stitching for survival when they became wealthy enough to choose not to stitch. Their choice is a form of culture. The other people’s choice where they decided to revive is also another form of culture (*1).
You may wonder. Is there such a thing as “real Sashiko” in Japan now? Although I say most of the Sashiko we can find today are “revived” versions, Sashiko isn’t the history yet. As long as there are people stitching with living in Japan practicing Japanese culture as their ordinary, that is one real Sashiko I can define.
Well… It is very difficult to define what “real” is in Sashiko. Is it about the pattern or design? Is it about what to make for what purpose? Or the technique and how to? Although all of them can be a part of the definition of the “real Sashiko”, one very important essence of defining the real Sashiko is a sense of “community” – where people can belong. This is also my long-hoping dream to make it true – to make a place where people can feel as a community. (If you read Japanese, you can probably find me saying “居場所を作りたい（I want to make ‘the’ place)” all over the posts & videos.
For this essence, Otsuchi Sashiko is probably the closest to the “real” Sashiko. They get together to do Sashiko, and they stitch not only for their leisure, but also for making their ends meet. This is the Sashiko community where we have not introduced ourselves in English well.
*You can visit Otsuchi Sashiko with us in May 2022 by joining our Sashiko Japan Tour.
Sashiko isn’t in history
Although most of the Sashiko in English are discussed based on the documents left, Sashiko is still an ongoing culture. I agree with the fact that the culture changes over time. It is changing now by those who practice Sashiko for their community. It will never be a whole picture of Sashiko when one ignores the on-going change in Japan.
Otsuchi Sashiko Project (previously, it was called Otsuchi Sashiko Recovery Project) started as a welfare project to support the Tsunami survivors from the NorthEast Great Earthquake in 2011. It has been 10 years, and they have worked with so many local people there throughout sharing the Sashiko on-going practice. Sashiko isn’t in history yet.
*Please read the full description here:
It is my sincere privilege to be able to join the Otsuchi Sashiko project. In my stay there (2011 Nov to 2012 Feb), regardless of my position as “teacher” or “advisor”, I received a lot of learning from them. To be honest, “learning” is not a sufficient word for what I have received. It is something more important than “learning” – like enlightenment. I would like to share what I learned there because it is what I indeed received from the Sashiko practice.
Japan Tour Visiting where Sashiko Exists
The main theme of the Japan Tour we organize is to share the “On-Going practice” of Sashiko. There are a lot more I can share with actual people & their stitching. For example, some say it is impossible to make “authentic Boro”. It is a true statement because it requires a few hundreds years to create one. However, we can make the “future authentic Boro” by stitching as the Japanese would have done so many years ago. I would like to take you there to stitch together, enjoy together, and share the “place” created by Sashiko.
The town of Otsuchi is very far from major cities in Japan. The transportation isn’t so convenient to visit. Therefore, I will not plan a visit (unless I specifically design the tour to visit) Otsuchi Sashiko Project in my own Japan Tour. For the Tour in May 2022, thanks to a great organizer Koshiki-san, we will visit them and spend some time together – in the place Sashiko would connect us regardless of where we are from.
Of course, throughout the tour, I will be there with you and for you to learn what Sashiko/Boro for us. I have spent more than 400 hours to share more than 750 stories about Sashiko on Instagram & Facebook. I feel that I still have only shared 10% of the whole stories I would like to share. Yes, the core & essence of Sashiko can be mastered by taking my Online Sashiko Class or In-person workshop. Yes, there are many information available online to learn from. I just think, however, that the time I would spend with you in Japan focusing Sashiko would be incredible memories for us. I would like you to find your own “Place” – which you may have already so you can add to your life.
We offer Japan Tour visiting where Sashiko exists.
*1: There may(should) be a form of Sashiko in which the Japanese did not choose to discontinue. In Koginzashi & Hishizashi, there are another pile of many Sashiko Stories that I am not qualified to talk about. When my stories are completed, I will work on introducing their voices as well.