September 20, 2021 at 12:34PM

The more I share my stories, the more I realize that my “ordinary” has now become the “extraordinary”. Sashiko is what I do: and it requires the Japanese mindset to fully understand Sashiko as a practice. Although I haven’t reached a full understanding yet, it is astonishing that my common sense can be someone’s remedy. 

Come to think of it, it may be “wisdom” we call. Some of you may have received a “Grandma’s Recipe”. In modern society, visiting a family in a rural setting and cooking Tomato Sauce together may be rare things to do. The ordinary Grandma’s Tomato Sauce became something extraordinary: that’s how we change ourselves.

In terms of Sashiko, I am privileged because I received (forced to receive) those recipes. It isn’t just about stitching, but all around Sashiko including their life-long wisdom. In order to explain what Sashiko is to me, I need to provide enough stories for the audience to be on the same page… and therefore I feel I have so many more stories to share. 

It is okay to dislike/disagree with what I say. I am questioning the “fun Sashiko” and it is a big “No” in today’s market. However, I want them (you) to trust me in one thing: If you are looking for something to help you in the practice of Sashiko, you will find it with/by/from me. I do not give it to you, but you will find it, as you may remember the Granda’s Recipe. 

よくよく考えるととんでもない話なのですが、博士号を取得した先生や、その分野の最先端の方とお話をしている現状です。それほど、刺し子についての情報があやふやで曖昧。その曖昧さが西洋では理解し難いので仕方ない話ではあるのですが。ずーっと言っていますが、僕の目的は「おばあちゃんの知恵袋」的な存在でい続けること。まだまだ智慧は足りないので、しっかりと勉強し続けようと思います。皆様のお力を借りながら。

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September 18, 2021 at 02:35PM

I love thinking about “fun things”. I enjoy being “positive”. However, when someone says, “Atsushi, stop focusing on the negative (in Sashiko). We just enjoy Sashiko with positive thinking. Be Happy”, I find myself feeling somewhat disgusting with their “positive” words. I have been facing this “uncomfortableness” for while to see why I feel that way. It is true that being positive is good, but it makes me feel sick. Today, while on SNS, I may have found the answer. 

It is like a music concert in a public park. The Positive & Happy music on the stage is great. There are many people in the audience dancing & singing together in great joy. This great Event is possible because there are many people/workers who clean the park before/after the Happy Time. The cleaning includes dirty jobs. Thanks to those who face the “cleaning”, the positive event can happen. 

A Music Concert is a “planned” event. Sashiko is NOT an event for some Japanese: although for some, unfortunately, this is the event and therefore they can focus on the positive. Who is going to clean the mess after the party? While one is enjoying the positive, another may prepare for the dirty job: and the people who say “Be Positive” are usually the ones who do not engage in the dirty cleaning job. 

This is another extreme analogy. Everyone should enjoy Sashiko as much as they want. However, telling others who are serious in “Cultural Context” to suppress the reality (dirty job) over Positivity (Fun event) is dangerous. Well… we see the same thing in many cases, and often, privileged people (including myself) can “choose” to be positive in someone paying the price for it. Are you here to enjoy the event of Sashiko, or to enjoy Sashiko fully?

ポジティブ思考の力は知っているつもりですが、同時に「ポジティブに考えて!」というアドバイスには不快感を覚える一人です。SNSを彷徨っていて、ふと良い例えができたので、まずは英語で紹介しました。近日中に配信でもご紹介できれば!

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September 17, 2021 at 02:55PM

In sharing Sashiko in English, I always encounter someone who tries to “One-Up” me. It is rather funny to have discussions with them (instead of frustrating), there are always reasons for what I do. By the way, “Oh, I have so many Japanese friends who do not think as you do” isn’t going to change me anything: It is ridiculous to even imagine that all Japanese have the same understanding. All I am saying is that I can talk with other Japanese people on the “same page” when we have disagreements. Their “friendship” is awesome, but I hope they can try to learn language & culture before they depend on their friend. 

One funny case of non-Japanese being “accurate” in Sashiko is the pronunciation of “Sashiko”. Yes, the pronunciation is important. Therefore, some people point out in my videos that my pronunciation of “Sashiko” isn’t Japanese. It is because I follow American Phonics that I learn little by little. It is unnatural to NOT follow the Phonics even if it is a non-English word. I pronounce Sashiko as the Japanese do when I talk in Japanese.

When we talk about the culture, “cutting pieces” can be dangerous. Here, “pronunciation” itself is cut off from the whole context. It is great to know the Japanese pronunciation of the word “Sashiko”, but it doesn’t make one to be “authentic” at all. So is the pattern. So are the number of friends. “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”: the first step to respect the culture. I respect English as a language & my American friends in the USA.

(I will explain the pronunciation difference on Patreon later on.)

「貴方の”刺し子”の発音、日本語っぽくないね」と英語で指摘頂きました。うん。英語で説明してるからね。言語には発音のルールがあるので、それにSashikoも当て嵌めています。郷に入れば郷に従え。変にマウント取ってくる人いるんですよね……。「私の刺し子の発音は日本的だ」とか「私には日本人の友達が沢山いる」とか。俺、日本人やっちゅーねん。日本語とか日本文化でマウント取られても笑うしかない。でも、そういうことなんですよ、英語圏で一文化を紹介するっていうことは。

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September 15, 2021 at 12:58PM

In my childhood, I wouldn’t have imagined myself being at the age of 38. In reality, I became 38 years old today and appreciate the happiest moment in my life. The Live Streaming Yesterday (99% in Japanese) proves how “ordinary” my life & Sashiko became: and I cannot be grateful enough for that.

I stopped sharing my personal stories (not only Sashiko but including everything) a long time ago. Many people do not want to look at something negative (dirty or disgusting). Being Positive is good, but requires a lot of willpower…based on each situation. Worse, they try to cover it (minimize it) by listening to only what they want to listen. It is okay because my personal stories should be “personal”. However, Sashiko Stories are not only personal but also “ours” of many artisans I respect. Regardless how uncomfortable it may be for the audience, I need to keep speaking up: Acknowledgement is the first step, however, it is extremely difficult with one’s defensiveness. If so, I just need to be patient and wait for them to be ready to “acknowledge”. The reason I keep sharing the Sashiko Stories. 

昨日の配信、ご覧頂きありがとうございました。何気ない話、刺し子についての思いを語った普通の配信でしたが、そういうのも良いなぁと見返してほのぼのとしております。もう少しでYoutubeにアーカイブがアップされる予定です。

眠気の中で、「誕生日(怖い)なぁ……」っていう口を滑らせた形になってしまいましたが、”本音”の部分はまた追々お話ができればなんて思っています。ほんと、皆様のおかげで無事38歳を迎える事ができました。良い意味で、全く想像していた日々とは違う毎日を過ごせていて、年月を重ねることで素直に誕生日を祝って頂いて、無邪気に喜べるようになれたらと思っています。去年の投稿見返したのですが、全く触れてなかったし(笑)少しずつ前に進めているという証なのかなと思います。

「事実は小説より奇なり」を地で行く人生です。身内のお話をしても、お話を聞いて下さる方の負担になるか、どん引かれるか、はたまた信じてもらえないか……なので、お話をする機会も少なくなりました。それでも、僕と恵子さんの大切な刺し子の一部です。それも含めての刺し子だし、そこを通ってきたから魅力的なのかもしれないという見方すらあります。いつかは全て荷を降ろすことができる日がくるのかな……なんて祈りつつ。

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September 11, 2021 at 08:50AM

Why do you “mend” in a society we have a “choice” to replace? We can, technically, avoid mending throughout our life. In fact, it is cheaper to replace. Why do we mend then? I feel it is dangerous to see “mending in necessity” and “mending as a choice” as the same thing. So, I want you to think.

For me, since I do not have to “mend” it, yet choose to mend, it is a process of adding stories on top of the stories the fabric (garment) has. In the process, I can talk to the stories that I had added before, or even the stories that “someone” added before. It is a conversation with the fabric, and it is indeed mending ourselves in this busy society.

It is a very “kind” process. You do not have to “fake” to be nice to yourself. Mending is a process of being kind, yet being who we are. Therefore, it is so refreshing & meditative in today’s society. However… Well, therefore, since you are so kind to care for the mending & stories, please use the same imagination to the “words” as well. “Sashiko” and “Boro”. They are Japanese words. Reaching to the “understanding” of the foriegn words by reading books, articles, or watching the videos/webinars offered by non-native (here, non-Japanese) can be dangerous in its Cultural Issues. I, as a native Japanese who lives with Sashiko, don’t even know the whole picture yet. I don’t understand how others (non-Japanese) can reach to the full-understanding.

You are kind to care for the fabric and garment. Please use the same imagination to the words you use. There are a lot more than you know in Sashiko & Boro if you aren’t fluent in Japanese language. I keep sharing what I mean with stories here.

参加頂いている方の表情が見えない講演は、これほどまでにキツイのか……という、とても良い経験になったウェビナーでした。質疑応答においても、鋭い質問が飛び交って、改めて英語が第二言語だなぁと思った次第です。続けるしかないんでしょうけどね。日本語だと説明しなくていい前提から始めなければいけません。日本語で「ま、伝わるだろ」というのが通用しない。物語を話す役割を続けながら、「届ける」役目を担う必要があると思うのです。頑張ります。

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September 10, 2021 at 07:16AM

I receive many compliments on “what we can do” in Sashiko. Yes, it is important to protect the skill and technique in its tradition. However, it is NOT the skill and technique that I am trying to pass down. It is “more” than that: so called “culture”, and I will try to deliver “it” today in my first Webinar on my own platform (thanks to much support!). 

Sashiko is a simple hand-stitching. A similar form of stitching exists(ed) everywhere in the world. One can master the “skill” in a matter of a few weeks. There aren’t so many “techniques” that require so many years to acquire: because Sashiko is the “ordinary” form of stitching. Since it is the “ordinary” form of stitching, categorizing Sashiko into something convenient for non-Japanese can result in repainting history, damaging the culture, and hurting someone. 

If it was a matter of “skill” and “technique”, I wouldn’t need to share this amount of stories. A book or a series of workshops would be enough. I am NOT only sharing the technique or skill to do “Sashiko” like stitching. I am sharing my personal space (memory, experience, and wisdom) that consist of “Sashiko” on top of skill and technique. Why do I call it “Sashiko”? Because there are so many stories within one History.

Webinar is on 9/10, starting at 9 pm EDT. No recording will be available, but I will do my best to offer the same one in another time zone. Due to capacity, a ticket is required: https://ift.tt/3Bk0nLR

今週は配信ができませんでした……申し訳ない。口内炎と今日の英語での講演(?)開催の準備で、どうも口と心に余裕がなくて。口内炎も癒えてきたし、来週は運針会の報告も兼ねて配信しようと思っています!

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September 08, 2021 at 09:03AM

“Atsushi is a hardcore on keeping the faith…” I found a comment on SNS. I know the person who wrote this. They have been supportive of what I am doing. I knew it was a compliment, but I do not think that I am a hardcore. At least, I do not want to consider myself a hardcore.

Behind the word of “hardcore”, which can be defined as “the most active, committed, or strict members of a group or movement”, there is a respect to my stories in a worrier way. I don’t compromise. I don’t butter them up. I don’t spoon feed anyone: Money or Fame will not buy my dignity out. For that, yes, I may be a warrior in Sashiko. The last Samurai to serve Sashiko. 

I appreciate the compliment. However… I wish I didn’t have to be so hardcore. I feel something wrong if one has to be a worrier to protect their own culture: my own identity. I say, “(Since they do not understand Japanese), their understanding of Sashiko/Boro is insufficient”, and ask them to learn instead of spreading what is convenient for them to make money. They say it is their “choice”. One says “please stop hurting”. The others say “I don’t think it hurts. You are over-reacting”. Then when one speaks up in pain, the person becomes a worrier. 

The compliment, “Atsushi is a hardcore” may be correct. However, I am sharing stories so that others after me do not have to be worriers to protect their own culture & identity. As I always say, if you wonder about “hurting” others in Sashiko/Boro, you are NOT. So Don’t Worry too much. There is another group who paint over “it” with their own individualism. They don’t read this because it is too true & uncomfortable for them. So, I keep sharing the stories one day the majority shifts and we do not have to the worrier. 

昔は日本の「本音と建前」が苦手でした。それでも建前は言えるように努力したし、年齢を重ねる上で「なんだかんだで、みんな本音と建前がある前提で話をしている」という形式美的なものを感じるようになりました。同時に西洋の「直接的」に見えた関係に憧れた事もあります。なんて日本は面倒なんだろうって。米国に移住して思うのは、米国程、建前が必要な文化はないということ。力関係によって建前の必要性が変わってきます。そして、米国では「英語ができない」というのは、それだけで弱者になります。それが例え日本文化を扱う議論だとしても。だからこそ、なんですよね。僕の人生を懸けた挑戦です。

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September 06, 2021 at 10:16PM

We live in such a “busy” society. We always face “demands” and often, unfortunately, how we can efficiently react to the demands define success. So do I. I do not deny the society where I live, and where my daughter will live. All I do is to observe, appreciate, and share what I can do.

We live in extremely busy days, yet you found Sashiko, hand-stitching. In order to stitch “fast”, you once need to slow down. So, while you are with Sashiko, I want you to be okay with being “slow”. No one is judging but yourself, and you can stop judging yourself when you are mindful about that. 

I ask you (them) to read and listen to our story. Some say that they do not have enough time. Sure… we live in very busy days & we have priorities. However… then… Why Sashiko? I do not offer a quick answer & definition because it will “filter” the culture. Instead, I share as many stories as possible, day by day, so you do not need to invest your time into learning it. 5 minutes of your time each day, please read it mindfully. When you stitch, cook, wash the dishes, clean, whenever your ears are available, please listen to my Sashiko Live Streaming offered in your language. No one is asking you to do Sashiko. You found it, and it is probably something you needed, which you may probably not know yet 100%. Isn’t it exciting? My wife (White) once concluded our relationship saying, “I got it. If I do the complete opposite of what I should do, it is in your culture”. This is extreme, but better than assuming that Western mindset is the same as Japanese. It is not so dangerous to say their “normal/ordinary” is the “abnormal/extraordinary” in our culture: and vice versa. Therefore, I want you to learn what Sashiko is for the Japanese people, especially those who aren’t(weren’t) so much “westernized”.☆

英語圏で少し意地が悪い質問を投げかける時があります。「なぜ刺し子なの?」と。刺し子を楽しむのに条件なんぞありません。どんな人でも楽しんで欲しいし、できればお友達になりたい。その上で、ふと、「なぜ刺し子なの?」と思うのです。流行ってるから?見た目?簡単そうな手芸だから?

日本語ではこの質問はしません。全てが正解だから。「英語圏では間違いがあるの?」と思われるかもしれません。間違いはないのですが、足りてないことが多い。下手したら日本語だということすら知らない。足りてないことを全体像だと思い込んでしまうことが文化の塗り替えに繋がります。味噌汁には出汁は必要だってばよ。

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September 03, 2021 at 09:25PM

GIYF. Google is Your Friend. Come to think of it, 4 years ago, Google Search Result was my worst enemy. Now, after accumulation of all the emotional labor, Google is Your, and Our Friend. If you have any questions, just search it on Google by adding my name. For example, if you are a newbie and would like to know what Sashiko is, just Google it by typing “What is Sashiko” and “Atsushi”. You will find “my” answer there. If you cannot find the answer on Google (yet), then that question can be a good question for me. 

There are so many “super nice” but “extremely rude” people out there. Since Sashiko is popular, some come to my account and just shoot some random questions and/or requests. I don’t know why they do not even read the first page of what they can find on Google before reaching out… but I find several similarities among them: They think they are doing a good thing to offer me an opportunity to share my expertise & knowledge (often for free). You may find it confusing because I am already sharing here… but they think they are entitled enough to give me a chance to speak about my own culture: If I say no, they “take it easy” and ignore my “advice” by saying “Oh, it doesn’t have to be you (or Japanese). There are many who are experts.” Niceness is suppressing the voice. That’s what I mean by Cultural “Filtration”. All of my Sashiko artisans were quite polite and expected others to be the same: mutual respect. 

All the “Japanese Courtesy” I am asking is to read what I am sharing. Many claim they read what I wrote. I doubt it. They read what they thought was written to dismiss their uncomfortableness. That’s something I need to challenge, to pass down the culture. Questions are great. I am NOT your friend if I do not know you. Google is Your Friend (that being said, the GSR  is a dangerous place if one cannot identify the fake as “fake for someone’s profit”… which is another story). 

最後に日本の地に足が着いてたのが2013年末。まじで信じられません。僕の記憶にある日本と、今の日本は違うんだろうなと思いつつも、でも大切な何かは変わらないままであって欲しいと願い続けている一人です。ご縁と運と決断が重なって移住しましたが、日本、大好きなんですよ。

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September 02, 2021 at 08:25PM

I am aware that I am taking risks. There are a lot easier ways to “expand Sashiko business” for money & fame. However, Sashiko is more than a (temporary) business to me. Therefore, I need to take risks to get chestnuts out of the fire… I just sometimes realize how bad the risk I am taking. Endless emotional labor. I know 99% of followers here do not cause anything emotionally exhausting… but unfortunately, as I often say, the labor is not a majority decision.

Here is another extreme analogy. One visits a Japanese house. I ask them to take off their shoes. They say, “oh, in my house, we keep shoes on.” and expect “us” to work together to have “mutual” understanding. Do you see how culturally scary this analogy is? They are visiting a Japanese house, yet insisting it is a choice of “understanding”. A similar thing is happening in Sashiko.

I would rather avoid conflict. I should ignore indifference. However, I speak up, because, in the worst case scenario, the world understands it is okay to keep shoes on in a Japanese house. Then, all the stories around the culture will be lost by the dominating group. I don’t like conflict. Everytime I reply knowing that the advice will make them extremely uncomfortable, my heart beats rapidly. I learn by experience. I know the pain will come: minimizing, undervaluing, victimizing and eventually receiving the criticism of being “You are arrogant”. Regardless of the pain, I need to do this: because they pick whatever they want, and change the culture unnaturally. If I were to visit a western culture, I would follow their “ordinary”. If they claim that they can introduce Sashiko/Boro, they need to learn & follow the Japanese courtesy… Please help me out with your kindness to wipe out the superficial niceness.

☆ 

白人女性と家族を持って、米国に移住して、刺し子を教えるようになって、勉強量が圧倒的に増えました。「針の使い方だけ教えれば良いんじゃね?」と無邪気に思っていた4年前。いつの間にか、あまりにも文化が切り取られすぎていて、刺し子と同じくらい社会学の情報発信をするようになりました。妻の専門が心理学ということもあって、日々読書です。今日の投稿もそんな感じ。また配信で愚痴らせて下さい。変化は良いんです。でも、大切なものは切り取られたくない。お味噌汁には絶対に必ずなにがなんでも、「出汁」は必要です。

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