March 24, 2021 at 09:13AM

A definition is powerful. It gives us a clear description for the mutual understanding. Without proper definition, a discussion won’t be valid. However, at the same time, when a definition is done by ignorance (either with good intention or for one’s convenience), it has the power to change something important. I used to explain Sashiko as wisdom in “poverty”. Poor Japanese people practiced Sashiko. It is true that they were in extremely harsh conditions, but I now wonder if it is okay for us to define them as “poor”. This is profound advice from my new menter, Yoshiko Wada (@yoshiko_wada_). I have been thinking & imagining & researching. Translation & definition is difficult because “poverty” in Japanese – “貧しさ” has a bit different nuance. (So I think it is okay to say that Sashiko was in 貧しさ).

We have our personal definition of words. How do you define “being rich/wealthy”? A pile of c-notes in front of you? A digital number on the PC monitor? List of real-estate you own? I have a vivid boundary between “rich” and “decent”. For me, “being rich” means that I can purchase what I want, in a grocery store, without checking the price tag. For me, “being rich” is liberation from minor worries for next week. I do not want a fancy watch because it doesn’t mean “being wealthy” to me. I know you have different definitions. It is quite natural with wanting “money”. We just have to know that the definition can be “personalized” based on the condition.

For me, Cultural Appropriation causes pain when people pretend that they know the definition of something foreign. Not knowing is fine. We are here to learn. I am learning – flipping all of my definitions of Sashiko as “wisdom in poverty”, thanks to Yoshiko-Sensei (She is “the” teacher of Shibori, so please learn from her, too). 

柳宗悦氏の著書、”手仕事の日本”の一節に「貧しさの美しさ」という表現があって、(昔の)刺し子もその一つだなと思っています(刺し子は地域によって特色があるので全てではないけれど)。英語で紹介する際には、貧しさを”Poor/Poverty”を訳して紹介してきたのですが、ご縁を頂いた先生よりとても貴重なご指摘を頂きました。そう。”貧しさ”と”Poor”は、同じ意味ですが、圧倒的に違う何かがあるのです。何が違うのか。これは逆に日本語で説明することが難しい。前提とは凄いものです。必ずどこかで説明に挑戦してみようと思います。

#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #JapaneseBoro #SashikoStory #Boro #SashikoDefinition #日本の刺し子 #刺し子 #襤褸 #ぼろ


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