April 24, 2021 at 02:43PM

If you enjoy Shibori in English, you would know her name for sure. I have been learning from Wada-sensei (@yoshiko_wada_) a lot about not only Japanese textile but also Sashiko & Boro from her approach. She is offering a special Talk tomorrow on April 25th (Sunday) @longhousereserve with the theme of #NuiProject & Sashiko. It is another great opportunity to learn from a Japanese who are well educated in the topic. 

I want you to listen to my voice. However, it is “my” voice. It is very important to listen to the other Japanese who practice Sashiko, and be knowledgeable for Boro & Textile. Information about Sashiko & Boro in English is still insufficient. The Japanese do not deliver their voice in English so often. In order to communicate in English, the understanding of English as both language & culture is quite important. Wada-Sensei is well experienced in all of the categories. I will be watching her talk & will learn something new tomorrow as well. For the ticket, please check the Long-House account above and check their link.

英語圏で「Shibori」をされていて 、きっと和田先生の名前を知らない方はいないはず……という程の著名な方と、最近お付き合いをさせて頂いております。本当に有り難いことです。明日、英語ではありますが、その和田先生がZoomで講演会をされる予定です。僕も拝聴する予定です。楽しみ。


#Sashiko #yoshikowada #slowfiberstudios #SashikoStitching #JapaneseSashiko #刺し子


April 23, 2021 at 01:58PM

“How to care & respect” is a difficult topic. One saying “I care about your culture” isn’t really enough. “Care & Respect” can be validated by action – not by just words. Words are, of course, important. However, if they support the people who appropriate the culture (directly/indirectly) because of the better deal, convenience, or appearance, then their “action” is contributing to the pain. As I keep saying, please be mindful who you are supporting by your decision. 

In my understanding of the Japanese culture, we really do not verbalize “care & respect”. In English, it is very important to express how we feel in words like “I love you”. I do not know many Japanese families who say “I love you” every single day. Instead, we act. If I care for someone, I take action. The Japanese may think it isn’t so “sophisticated” that we have to verbalize their emotions. It is natural to act when we care enough. I appreciate kind words. However, the kind words without action “can” be emotionally stabbing me while them being nice to me. It is unfortunate for everyone on the same stage.



#Sashiko #Shokunin #SupportSashiko #CulturalAppropriation #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #刺し子 #職人


April 22, 2021 at 02:27PM

Regardless of my fear(pain) in Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, I am happy to see many people get to know what Sashiko is. Although some information may be filtered/twisted, those who respect the origin will eventually reach the stories. After all, what I would like to do is to pass down the culture. Your understanding & interest is very important, and I appreciate it. 

One of the distortions we experience in the trend is “the value change”. It is simple economics – demand and supply. The price tag we see on the Japanese Kofu (vintage fabric) is unbelievable. Once they were “trash”, now they are valuable. Isn’t it kind of funny?

Many ask me what is the “Good Kofu”. It is a difficult question because “it depends” on what they are looking for. For Sashiko, there are 3 check-points to define if it is Good Kofu (for Sashiko). (1) Is it washable? (2) Is the damage/worn naturally done? (3) Is the fabric “usable”? As I shared the concept of Yo Soku Bi yesterday, the beauty comes from “using” it. In order to make a good “Boro to be”, the journey starts from finding Good Kofu pieces. (I sometimes list Kofu in our store. For my business, please follow @upcyclestitches).


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #Yoshokubi #Kofu #VintageFabric #JapaneseVintage #刺し子 #古布


April 21, 2021 at 09:51AM

We can find many kinds of descriptions about Sashiko in English. “Slow-stitching”, “Beauty in Imperfection”, “Meditative Stitching”… and you know better than I do. All of these are not “wrong”, but they are insufficient by themselves. Before defining what is “the sufficient Sashiko description”, it is critical to understand the concept of “用即美 – Yo-Soku-Bi” in Japanese Mingei. 

The Japanese found the beauty in the ordinary (not only in imperfection) – and they categorized it as “the beauty in Usage (in the ordinary days)”. There are many crafts found in this Mingei-Movement, and that’s the base concept of the Aesthetic Sense in Sashiko. (Please look up our website for terminology, like Mingei and such).

“The beauty in Usage”. That’s the reason we mainly make something we can use instead of put it on the wall. There is nothing wrong with making a tapestry or framing Sashiko as an Art piece. However, without understanding the base concept, the culture becomes something different. Therefore, I say “Sashiko in English isn’t wrong, but insufficient”. If you are to share/teach Sashiko to someone, please keep “learning” – and let your students know there are more (Do not let you students feel that they do not need to learn further, please).

英語圏で刺し子をしていると「刺し子は芸術だ」とか「額縁に入れて飾りたい」とお褒めの言葉を頂くことがあります。嬉しいのですが、同時に「美」 としての刺し子の出発点も知って欲しいなと思うのです。刺し子を額縁に入れることは全く問題ないと思っています。僕自身もするし。ただ、「用即美 – 用いて即ち美しい」という概念が、刺し子の根底にあることを知った上で楽しんで欲しいなと思うのです。僕達が基本ジャケットやバッグばかりを作るには、こういう理由があります。タペストリーや飾るものを作らないという訳ではありません。ただ、やっぱり「使いたい&着たい」と思ってもらえるものを作りたいなと思うのです。

#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #Yoshokubi #Mingei #TeachingSashiko #CulturalAppropriation #刺し子 #民藝運動 #用即美


April 20, 2021 at 10:42AM

When I write about the “language” difference, some read it superficially as if I am excluding non-Japanese. They say, “So you are saying we need to be fluent in Japanese to enjoy Sashiko?”. No, I am NOT saying it at all.

You do not need the Japanese language to enjoy/practice Sashiko. Only thing I am asking is the respect/care for the Japanese culture (voice). When they are trying to learn the “mindset”, I am fine with them teaching Sashiko. Only thing I would find uncomfortable is to “twist(repaint)” the culture. When a Sashiko teacher leaves the impression to students that they do not need to “look further” in Sashiko after the workshop, then it is a problem. All of my class ends saying “This is the start of their Sashiko”. A big difference in mindset & approach. 

Sashiko isn’t so difficult to be good at. However, it isn’t shallow as the non-Japanese can “complete” on behalf of us. Summarizing/Simplifying Sashiko into “the one answer” with filtering numbers of diversified style is a form of twisting & repainting the culture – and when it is done with intentional ignorance & for the profit, then it is Cultural Appropriation. 

As I always say, “Caring & Respect” will differentiate Appreciation from Appropriation – not what you can do, it is how you approach it (although it would be great to try to learn the Japanese).


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #Japanese #TeachingSashiko #CulturalAppropriation #刺し子


April 19, 2021 at 10:44AM

In this account, I am sharing the Sashiko & how “different” the understanding can be. Not “Wrong”, just “different” – because of this difference, the understanding of Sashiko in English can be insufficient. After all, “Sashiko” is a Japanese practice rooted into the Japanese culture. The culture is deeply related to the language. In other words, the language is a product of each culture. 

The more I learn English, the deeper I respect the language. It is a well-developed language to communicate in a diversified society. Since the speakers are different, the language became straightforward based on their “value” – which is mutual understanding by logic. This simplification enhances the dualism, and unfortunately (sometimes), it “could” filter something in between. Contemporary Japanese is becoming like English – more “direct”. However, what I share is the culture where Japanese didn’t really need to “problem-solve” by language. Therefore, it is extremely challenging for me to explain the nuance of Sashiko in English.

Unlike the other posts here, this is merely my opinion. I am not well educated enough to discuss linguistics. However, by explaining my idea, “what/how I write here” might make more sense to some of the readers. Some complaints that they do not get “clear answers” by reading what I write. It is true because I do not offer “clear answers”. Without mindful reading, my writing here is nonsense. Instead, I believe I offer enough “stories” to encourage them to think. Therefore, I ask, please sit with what I write (for while) before asking for the “quick” answers.


#Sashiko #SashikoStory #JapaneseSashiko #刺し子


April 18, 2021 at 11:11AM

Finally… it is my pleasure to share this information. I knew it would be perfectly fine, but I couldn’t feel 100% comfortable in sharing until I got the Covid Vaccination schedule. (I guess I am very much Japanese… What we feel anxiety the most is troubling others. So many non-Japanese find us “worrisome” and “anxious” based on their common-sense, but we just want to avoid being the one to bother others). 

Anyway. I am restarting the In-Person Sashiko Workshop, in a popular & beautiful studio, “Aya Fiber Studio” in Florida (@aya_fiber_studio) after 15 months. (I cannot believe the last in-person was in Quiltcon 2020).

I sincerely appreciate the owner, Suzanne, for understanding my “Japaneseness”, and being patient to make it happen. This is not only the restart workshop, but a very special one with 3 days length of stitching & stitching. First day, I shared the basics & essence. The 2nd & 3rd day, we apply the basics to what the participants want with sharing many stories & techniques. It looks like there are a few spots left. If you are interested, please contact Suzanne at @aya_fiber_studio for the details.

*Photo from previous workshop in Tribeca, NYC.



#Sashiko #SashikoWorkshop #SashikoClass #AyaFiberStudio #LearnSashiko #刺し子 #刺し子ワークショップ


April 17, 2021 at 11:09AM

I have received several happy notes that they found my article on the latest PieceWork Magazine (Summer 2021 issue) about Sashiko & its diversity. I still don’t have the copy on my hand, and I will introduce the details when I actually have it. I just wanted to share that this is my official first “published” contribution with compensation. 

I cannot thank the PieceWork team enough. English is my second language. I never got out of Japan until the age of 19. Therefore, my writing can be very strange (and wrong) for native writers. There are many grammatical mistakes (not on purpose). I do not follow some “rules” in writing (on purpose). However, usually, when an editor reads my writing, they try to “re-write” on my behalf with good intention. Instead of making corrections, they often (not always) try to rewrite the whole sentence with the contents they thought they understood. Unfortunately, it often loses the “point”. I understand. It is MUCH easier to rewrite than adjusting the errors. I almost gave up & focused on improving my English. The PieceWork team, however, didn’t change my writing style much. I still don’t know how they did it, but I took it as their understanding of the diversity – different cultures – and therefore, I felt they respected Sashiko. (my conclusion was the editor is simply a genius). Philosophy & practice of Sashiko is there → https://ift.tt/3tseA5L. ☆


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #PieceWork #SashikoMagazine #SashikoStitching #Unshin #運針 #刺し子


April 16, 2021 at 12:37PM

When I say “Sashiko/Boro is NOT ◯◯” or mention about Cultural Appropriation, some automatically start defending themselves. As you know, I am NOT excluding anyone. I just want them to “know” more. This may be an extreme analogy, but again, let’s use pizza. If one is enjoying “frozen pizza” and spreading the info it is “THE pizza (as a whole culture)”, wouldn’t you want to share the favorite pizza restaurant you have in your neighborhood? There is Nothing wrong with frozen pizza – but it cannot represent the whole pizza.

I am welcoming you to learn Sashiko & Boro. However, since it is deeply related to the unfamiliar culture for you, it will take a long time to fully understand. I wish I could give you the answer “Sashiko/Boro is ◯◯” as other teachers/books do… but it isn’t that shallow. Therefore, I ask to “keep” learning & “doubt” what you know. I am here to share. I offer workshops to support your learning. Once you “start” learning, call your stitching “Sashiko/Boro” or “◯◯-Inspired”. It won’t hurt me because you listen & try to not to “change” the culture by ignoring the voice. You do not need to be a “master” to call your stitching Sashiko. However, if you decide to ignore the voice from Japanese for your convenience, I will speak up no matter how good you are in stitching. It isn’t about how good you can stitch. It is about how you “appropriate” the culture you do not understand fully. It isn’t about Skill or knowledge. It is about “know what you don’t know” to avoid Cultural Appropriation – if you are referring the foreign culture.

(By learning Sashiko in a “good form”, your stitching will get better & even anyway.)



#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #CulturalAppropriation #Thimble #Unshin #刺し子


April 15, 2021 at 10:09AM

“Boro is not something we make – it is something we raise (rear/bring-up)”. For us, there is no such a thing as “the completion” of Boro. Boro exists in the usage, and therefore the completion of Boro equals to the end of the fabric. We just enjoy a dot (moment) of its history of Boro.

We can find photos of “Boro-Inspired” pieces. Some seem like a patchwork with bright colored (recycled) fabric swatches. Some use a file to damage the fabric, and call it Boro. Some enjoy Boro under the food (which I find disgusting). I believe they use the word “inspired” to avoid troubles. They know they are using the foreign word, and I appreciate their choice of distinguishing the “Boro” and “Borough-Inspired”. However, I often wonder, what are they “inspired” by? The look of Boro? The idea of Boro? 

“Boro is a technique to mend/recycle the unwanted fabric” is not a correct statement from many perspectives. When I say, “It is incorrect”, many ask me “Then you have the responsibility to explain”. Yes, that’s what I have been doing for 2 years here and there. Boro is not a word for technique. Boro isn’t about using “whatever” fabric to recycle. It is something to “appreciate” what we have & grow (together).



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