It has been almost 7 years since I had encountered this beautiful project: Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project. I sometimes refer this project as “Otsuchi Sashiko”. The official name for the project is Otsuchi Recovery (Fukko) Sashiko Project (大槌復興刺し子プロジェクト）.
After the earthquake followed by Tsunami on March 11th, 2011, the five volunteers established the project to support the people in Otsuchi, especially those who had nothing to do but sitting in the evacuation shelter. The men had a lot of things to require the muscle power after the disaster. The young generation also had many tasks to revive the infrastructure such as distributing the support goods and clean. However, those who wouldn’t be able to move, mostly elderly women, did not have things to do and had to wait for nothing in the non-private shelter.
Not only the fish (support goods such as food and blankets) but also a fishing rod (a method to make a living).
The project tries to create jobs for those who couldn’t do hard labor outside.
They have been trying to create the community where anyone can gather for the purpose of stitching.
We all then hope that the stitching can be a part of the purposes of their new life after the earthquake.
I, Atsushi, first join the project in June 2011.
Then, visited Otsuchi for an advice on creating a business (creating jobs) in November, then two months in February and March in 2012. Ever since the first day I met the project, I have been thinking what I and Sashiko can do for them.
I had written many articles and reports regarding the Otsuchi Sashiko in English, but I had to give them up when my father passed away and the stakeholders decided to shut down the website. Well, even after the sad reality of me leaving Sashiko behind for while, my mother, Keiko Futatsuya, kept in touch with them. Now, she is the advisor of Sashiko technique and designing in Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project.
I do not find many articles about Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project online in English.
It is my mission to write it down what this amazing and remarkable recovery project is. This is a story of Otsuchi Sashiko throughout my eyes and emotions. The story may be biased a bit, but I believe I am introducing the fact as sincerely and accurately as I can.
Brief History of Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project (OSP)
Otsuchi town was badly damaged by the earthquake followed by Tsunami, including the loss of town hall and the mayor and more than 1,280 of people’s life. The survivors how needed an evacuation shelter by losing their house were more than 9,000 people.
A role for “mothers” and “grandmothers”
In the evacuation shelter, mothers and grandmothers, who were very much hard worker in their own house as a house-maker, didn’t have anything to do. There were no kitchen to cook, no living room to clean, no dishes to wash. Men and young generation could work for the cleaning debris, but the job required a lot of muscle power. Mothers and Grandmothers couldn’t help them even if they wanted to.
No car to commute. No place to work when a big part of the town is damaged by the Tsunami. The days of ladies in Otsuchi, well known for the hard-workers, had changed drastically.
The answers they had come up with was Sashiko, in which requires only a needle, thread, and piece of fabric. The Sashiko was doable in a limited space of the evacuation shelter. The mothers and grandmothers wanted to do “something” instead of just waiting.
One stitch by one stitch with hopes
A vision of OSP
*Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project = OSP
Toward high-spirited Otsuchi
OSP strives to cheer up people in Otsuchi and related to Otcushi throughout the Sashiko Project.
When a mother, who enjoy Sashiko, is happy, the household will be filled with smiles. If the household is filled with smiles, the town of Otsuchi will be energetic. When the town of Otsuchi become energetic, everyone in the town and related to the town will be happy.
Our goal is to contribute to the recovery of the town of Otsuchi.
Tell the value of Hand-made culture
We strongly respect the value of hand-made craft culture with spending so much time and putting the good-heart in it in the era of “speed” and “efficiency (productivity)” with mass-production and mass-information. “Hand-Made Craft” provide us “Care” and “Mindfulness (Mental Wellness)” by thinking of other, and using our own hands.
We actually perform the handmade craft in every day and tell how previous they are throughout the project
We also value these 5 categories throughout the OSP activities
Locality (respect to Otsuchi)
OSP rooted the town of Otsuchi, and try out best to contribute to Otsuchi throughout the project.
Particularity about Hand-Stitching
We are particular about providing the hand-stitching items for those who respect the culture of hand-made crafting. We care of customers and try our best to tell the value of hand-made culture.
Encourage the Self Esteem of artisans
We encourage our artisans (Sashiko-san) to build self-esteem of what they do by providing the opportunity to improve their skill and understandings. We also respect each other who enjoy the hand-made crafting (Sashiko)
Aiming the best continuously
We continuously try our best to improve our technique and product, and we strive to provide the best Sashiko product.
Place & Community
We respect the concept of “community”, the place everyone can gather and socialize. We provide the place where Sashiko-san (the artisans) can gagther, even without any purposes, and then the customer would like to visit to meet them.
Coming soon. (Confirming the lastest numbers with Otsuchi Sashiko)
Purchase / Support the OSP
Purchase Sashiko Items from OSP
You may purchase Sashiko items, such as workman jacket and bags, that OSP provides at the Sashiko Exhibition including the one in the major department stores. You may contact me (Atsushi) if you have a specific item (or an idea of what you would like to purchase) for the detail. I am happy to provide as much information as possible. Not many products are listed online, but I believe I can provide the good amount of information for an online order.
For example, the bag below is about $350.00 in Total. ($300.00 for the bag plus shipping and handling of $50)
You will receive a card signed by the artisan (Sashiko san) who made the bag. Since everything is hand-made by the individual artisans, each item is completely one-of-a-kind.
Support by Donation to Non-Profit Organization
The OSP is managed by the certified Non-Profit Organization, Terra Renaissance.
If you wish to make a donation to the Otsuchi Sashiko, please contact me (Atsushi) for more detail. I will try to translate and connect you to the appropriate individual in the certified NPO Terra Renaissance.
Support by purchasing the thread for OSP
Keiko and Atsushi Futatsuya have been supporting the Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project by providing the thread (initially free then specially discounted price for the continuously).
Needless to say, Sashiko thread is the key material to make Sashiko products. We have the campaign to ask the general public to purchase the thread for OSP naming “supporting thread” to connect Otsuchi and Takayama (where Keiko is located). If you are interested in this campaign, please contact Atsushi for the detail. (Working on the page for this now.)
More Photos from OSP