Japanese manner when contact

Japanese manner when contact Atsushi about Sashiko

Our goal is to share the Sashiko we enjoy & love. It is our pleasure to receive a feedback and answer questions regarding Sashiko. However, over years, I have been receiving “too casual” inquires. Although I could have just ignored these emails, I decided to spare some of my time to share what is the Japanese manner when contact someone. Sharing the Japanese culture is one of my goals in sharing Sashiko and the Japanese culture related to that.

Japanese manner when contact someone.

While I am writing this, I start thinking if this is even a matter of cultural differences… but anyway, let me share the Japanese manner when contact someone over the email.

  1. Introduce who you are.
  2. Explain what you would like to the person to do with the details
  3. Explain what is the “benefit” of the person’s doing if it is for the first time.
  4. If you ask the question, make it specific

Umm… Your opinion as “Non-Japanese” would be very much appreciated here. Is this the manner only for Japanese? I kind of doubt it now.

Anyway.

If you are not following the steps above in contacting someone for the first time, the email will be considered very “rude”. Being polite and humble is very important in Japanese culture to share something professional. The person is contacting me because he/she is interested in Japanese culture AND Sashiko AND Boro. If he/she doesn’t follow those manners, then they have something else to learn first before Sashiko and Boro.


*I am not a perfect human being, so I forget the person’s name. I usually remember the workshop participants’ name and our customer’s name, but there is a possibility that I forget. It is my rudeness to proceed conversation with this type of misunderstanding, so it is very important that you introduce yourself.

So here is the detail explanation for each step if you are writing to me for the first time. If you have met me already in the workshop, there is no need to follow the procedure below. You are my friend already.


Introduce who you are

Please, please introduce who you are.

If you are writing for the first time, introduce who you are. Starting the email with “Hi Atsushi,” and ending the email by “Thanks! ○○○.” are considered very rude in the first communication.


Explain what you would like me to do with the detail.

You are contacting me because you want me to do something. I understand that. So, be specific. If you want me to write an essay of what I think about Sashiko, then share where those writing will be published (or even copy and pasted). If you would like to meet me or Keiko in person, then explain where, when, and the reason for your visit.

I was wondering you would want to meet me for the interview about Sashiko” is rude even if you own a publication. There should be a formal procedure to make things happen.


Explain why I should answer to your request

It is so surprising to me why everyone thinks I would like to work for them for their interest. Yes, it is my goal to share what Sashiko we enjoy is. However, the “too casual” conversation is already outside Sashiko mindset, so please do not misunderstand that I am a “google” who can provide the answer.

Therefore, explain the reason why I should work for your request.

Again, if you are a graduate of my workshops or a customer from my website, there is no need for the explanation. It can be a part of customer support and I would like to do as much as I can for the support I receive.

However, if you are the first time visitor, then what is the “benefit” I get for that kind of time that I use for your request.

Interestingly, there is a common thing for those who write the rude emails. They never offer the “commission” for what I do. The inquiry I receive with asking for the estimate of “commission” or “fee” are typically very polite and humble.

I am not asking for the money here. I am happy to work for free of charge if I can contribute something I value.

For example, if you are part of academic research (in an University) researching about Sashiko, I am happy to provide what I know.

If you are part of Non-profit organization to support the people (let’s say with hand-disability to do the rehabilitation), then I will do whatever I can without asking for the fee.

However, if you are just writing a blog or a book, or an editor on the web magazine, or an instructor of a hand-stitching workshop, then convince me why I would like to work for you with the detail.

It is just shocking to receive these email with many requests & “without the details”.


And lastly, and this is what makes me upset the most.

Make your question specific

Come on. If you are sending a professional to ask a question, be specific. I get numbers of questions saying

  • What do you think about Boro and/or Sashiko
  • Why do you think Sashiko and/or Boro is popular in Western Culture.

The worst question is

  • What is Sashiko? Can you explain that?

Just READ this website… or even watch the youtube… I started writing this blog in order to share the Japanese manner when contact to someone. Now I just realize this may be something universal… are those considered to be okay in the western culture…?

What a world do we live in now.


I am not that friendly after all.

I try to be as friendly as possible. However, I am not “everyone’s friend” after all. If the person took my workshop, I consider him/her friend. You can just email me saying, “hey, what’s up!”.

If the person has purchased some items from my website, I consider him/her as the supporter (Purchasing item from me means he/she is supporting my activities). The appreciation for support leads me to consider him/her my friend, and I will be happy to answer his/her questions and requests.

Interestingly, those who send me “casual (rude in Japanese culture) email” are the people who haven’t done anything above. I sometimes feel that they do not even read my website or follow SNS (Instagram & Facebook) to understand what I do.

If the one is looking for the “instant answer” by finding some of the photos about Sashiko or Boro, then I really do not want to answer the emails because those “instant communication” is the last thing I would like to share throughout Sashiko.

Also, those people who seek for the “instant answers” usually do not make a follow-up to the replies I make. I spent a good amount of time to reply to the email. Sometimes, I even make research to answer the questions. It is just unbelievable, and I sincerely hope it is more like the individual issue rather than the cultural issues.

By reading this article, if you think you are the one of many who made the mistake (and not have followed-up to the reply), please take this advise and do not make the same mistake again, especially because you are “interested” in Japanese culture.


I am upset and it is good that I care

I am pretty upset in writing this article.

However, I believe this anger is a positive emotion because I still CARE those who are interested in Sashiko. If a person is contacting me about Sashiko, I would like him/her to understand the humbleness & politeness in the Japanese culture (or for that matter, in non-Japanese culture as well).

As I keep saying, Sashiko is a process of stitching with CARE.

The contact I described above happen because the person with question didn’t have enough care to me and my time. I would like to change that. Be respectful to someone & his/her time would make this world a bit less stressful.

Again, I could have (and may have in the future) chosen the path to ignore these rude emails. However, it is not part of my activities of sharing the Sashiko we love. I hope we can learn from each other.

5 thoughts to “Japanese manner when contact Atsushi about Sashiko”

  1. The honesty of this article makes me feel very releived. We need to take time to look at our inner self, admit our needs, what is important enough for us and communicate it with the people around us and do the same for them. We live in a word that “flattens ” everything under its boot and we dont take a moments break to think in a more individual way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us so we can understand. ( English is not my first lanquage so forgive me if Im not expressing my self well)

    1. Hi Christiana,

      Thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me.
      What I want to share about Sashiko is not only the stitching technique but also the culture behind it. I was worried if my writing (also not my first language) was communicating well, but your comment made me feel easy to what I wrote. Thank you! Thanks to the Internet, everything became “Accessible and convenient”. I agree with you, and I believe Sashiko can do a bit of job to make it more “caring”.

  2. Dear Atsushi
    Mistakes because of differences in cultures are expected but we can come closer if we express what we expect from other people and how we think. For example in my mediterranean culture its very rude not to say hello when you get into a shop and when someone talks to you, you are supposed to face at him/her.
    I have an art shop and many international visitors come into my place ( that for me is like a home and I gather every art piece with care, and I treat my customers like friends ..) and they totally ignore me. They act like they are getting into a sypermarket… Im always so amazed and sometimes I get realy abset 🙂
    I think that the mistique beauty in a Sashiko comes from exactly this balance and respect. Thats something I can feel for a lot of things in japanese culture like the Japanese literature etc. Thank you for making a blog that is not superficial.

    1. Dear Christiana,

      Thank you for the comment. Yes. I agree.
      I wouldn’t be this upset if I am introducing something else, non-Japanese culture. Since I am introducing Sashiko as the Japanese, I become upset when someone (the one who try to learn something Japanese) does not respect the custom which they are trying to learn. I am upset, but it isn’t anyone’s fault. I wanted to just share how we can resolve it together. This blog is for that.

      One day, our path may cross 😀 I am looking forward to meeting you some day.

      Best Regards,
      Atsushi

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