April 01, 2021 at 10:16AM

“All different and All Good”. I believe the Sashiko (especially done by Unshin without focusing on the result) represent the stitcher themselves. As there is no “right and wrong” in humans, (I believe there are no “wrong” humans as who we are), there is no such thing as “Right and Wrong” in Sashiko. If you find a rule in Sashiko, it is either a (big) local tradition or a filter to make “it” easy. The essence of Sashiko exists in the ordinary. It is nonsense to define “Right and Wrong”.

It is easy to say “All different and All Good”. However, it is very challenging to make it visual. One project we try to visualize our belief is this “Jacket made by people who learn Unshin”. The 2nd project started in 2020. Keiko is about to complete the project. I will explain the whole picture when it is ready, but I just wanted to share how “beautiful” it can be – “All different and All Good”. However, it doesn’t mean “whatever is good”. Without learning the form (Kata), one cannot be different.



#Sashiko #Asanoha #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoJacket #Handmade #Unshin #NoragiJacket #刺し子 #刺し子運針会仲間


March 31, 2021 at 10:38AM

Some criticize me for playing the victim (crying for attention). Umm. “I don’t know” is my honest reaction. I had always been “privileged” in my life. It is my first time to “speak up” as a minority. I need to learn what is the line between “speaking up” and “playing the victim”.

Being a man in Japanese society is a huge “privilege”. It is unfortunate, but Japan is a Male-dominated society. We even have a word for that. So, I am privileged. My mother is not privileged for this matter. Also, being a Japanese itself is a privilege in comparison to the other minority groups in Japan. I cannot talk on behalf of the minorities because I haven’t experienced their pain. However, now, I acknowledge it, and learn how to imagine their pain. I never will minimize their voice.

It is uncomfortable to listen to someone saying “You are privileged”. I didn’t choose to be a man. It is not me who wanted to be “privileged”. However, I do benefit by being privileged. Therefore, I learn to listen – and more importantly – “imagine (the pain)” instead of saying “it is what it is”.

In Sashiko, unfortunately, the information available in English is not enough (not wrong). The discussions on “Sashiko/Boro” are filtered – both questions & answers – by many trying to share their “definition” on Sashiko & Boro that they learned from the 2nd source. Unlike Zen introduced by legend “D. T. Suzuki” who wrote (not translated) based on his 1st source, Sashiko/Boro is not discussed with 1st source much. For that matter, Sashiko/Boro is filtered by privilege(English). I am NOT saying privileged people need to shut up. I am asking them to acknowledge the privilege they have – because They Are The One Who Can Change “It Is What It Is”. Please. You are the one who can change. 


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #CulturalAppropriation #SashikoStory #Unshin #日本の刺し子 #刺し子 #運針


March 30, 2021 at 10:29AM

“Cultural Appropriation” explained the pain & sorrow I felt when I saw someone introduce Sashiko with their own filtered information & minimizing the stories. This “filtering” often (not always) is caused by the privileged people, and therefore, some people misunderstand my message that I am trying to exclude all the “privileged” people. I am NOT. I am just asking you to learn Sashiko so that no one will change the culture “for their convenience”.

“Filtering” can happen within the people in the same culture. It is unrealistic to believe ALL Japanese artisans are at the same level of understanding, nor share the same value. Although it is rare to find a Japanese artisan who “insists” on the legitimacy of doing “Correct Sashiko”, I may come across similar experiences even among Japanese people. However, I am not worried about it much. I say, “Sashiko done by Japanese are all valid”. Can you guess why?

As long as one understands the Japanese language, there are enough Japanese people & documents they can reach when they continue Sashiko. If they do not continue, they will not “change” the culture. How about those in other languages besides the Japanese? Since not many Sashiko practitioners understand other languages, the person who “interprets (translate)” the Sashiko will create the “new Normal” in each language – which the others cannot even doubt since they do not understand the original Japanese language. Isn’t it scary? Therefore, I share the stories. Unfortunately, audiences without Japanese language trust the 2nd source written in their language as if it is the “whole story”. 

That’s the “change” I am afraid of, and if one makes a profit over the people in origin, then it is a form of C/A (Privileged people getting wealth over sacrificing the culture’s essence is the damage from C/A here).


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #CulturalAppropriation #SashikoStory #日本の刺し子 #刺し子


March 29, 2021 at 09:39AM

The “Thread” matters in Sashiko. There are stories we call it “Sashiko Thread”, and there are reasons why we keep using the specific “Sashiko Thread”. You can find the details on our Youtube & Website, and here is a “process” of thread being a part of fabric. It is very rare to have this kind of example because the fabric today is not designed to last so long. This Sashiko is more than 12 years old, and finally it is becoming a part of Fabric.

“Cloth & Fabric” is a form of culture. It exists everywhere the human resides. The priority (concepts) changes. Now, “how it looks” is more important than “how long it can last”. Both are very important cultural aspects. We need to learn to appreciate “both”.

There is a reason why I do not insist on “slow-fashion & Sashiko” so much. They are very much related, and I probably should use it for the marketing purpose. However, the core for slow-fashion is NOT mending. It is supporting “traditional textile manufacture” who can make the fabric for the purpose of “last-long”. I do not want “it” to be a trend with filtering the facts by the privileged group of people (including myself). Therefore, I share to be mindful and caring. 



#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStitching #SashikoStory #Mending #SlowFashion #日本の日常 #刺し子


March 28, 2021 at 01:10PM

I occasionally wonder what “appreciation” means for others. For me, “appreciation” comes with some action. Without action, the phrase “I appreciate it” is kind of a polite way to say “I don’t care”. One say, “I appreciate Japanese culture”. But they step into a Japanese house without taking shoes off with saying “it is freedom of choice”. The similar case goes to “Inspired”. One say, “Boro inspired me”, but they put so bright color to fabric… I wonder what they are inspired by. Are they using the word for the commercial or “self-assertion” purpose? It is perfectly fine to do so, but then covering their greed with superficial niceness is disgusting. Regardless of what they say, without proper action, they are  same as those saying “I don’t care about Sashiko, but I use the word Sashiko because it brings more people (which I define as Cultural Appropriation, so please do not do it). Is it too much to ask to take an action?

If you can, please, tell your friends what you learn. Stop purchasing from someone who is just taking advantage of the words/culture. If possible, please speak up with me. Everyone has a choice to be a bystander and not be involved. However, then, please  do not cover yourself up by saying “I appreciate it”. Sashiko is more than a mending. Boro isn’t the technique. The Japanese didn’t embrace the imperfection. Sashiko isn’t developed as “slow-stitching”. There are many messages you can find on this account. Please, please help me to re-adjust the words. Groups of privileged people re-wrote a culture – I am not trying to reverse it, and I learned from my older friends, that I may be the last chance to do so in Sashiko. All of my messages are available for free. Please read. Please watch. Please learn, and Please help me.


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #CulturalAppropriation #SashikoStory #日本の刺し子 #刺し子


March 27, 2021 at 10:32AM

I often receive a heartwarming comment, “Thank you for your generosity”. Sure, it is my goal to share the Sashiko we practice. It is my pleasure. However… “sharing” was an extreme choice I had made in devastation. I am not (always) a good-positive person with an abundance mind to “share”. I am just desperate in protecting my own culture I grew up with from unnecessary changes.

I introduced a concept of “守破離 (Shuhari)” before. I guess this Japanese-like mindset of “learning” is just “too much work” for many people in expectation of getting instant gratification. Therefore, many teach foriegn culture before sufficient learning. I tried to be quiet before (because I thought it was the way to “protect” the culture). Now, over the Internet where anyone can say anything, I realize that “sharing” is the only way to protect the culture, even if it ends up with losing my possible profit. I am worried about the future. “Sharing” may crash the business I have today. However, I just can’t let ignorance change my own culture. One may say: “Sashiko is a form of stitching to make rice-grain size stitch on the line & stitches pre printed fabric. Whatever thread & needle is good. Just embrace the imperfection”. In this “often” used Sashiko description, only phrase I agree is that the “Sashiko is a form of stitching”.


I am happy that you enjoy what I share. Am I a saint? No, I am just struggling to protect my own identity.


#Sashiko #Unshin #Shuhari #JapaneseSashiko #運針 #刺し子 #運針会


March 25, 2021 at 10:02AM

People ask: “Is it okay to do Sashiko on Denim Jeans. It isn’t traditional.” – I answer, “Yes, of course. But, please try to learn what Sashiko is”. I am NOT denying the change in culture – without changes, it isn’t culture. I just want “changes” to be sincere, not by ignorance, not for the profit of someone who doesn’t belong to.

“Sashiko & Denim” is one change. Before I started stitching denim in 2006, it wasn’t as popular as today. I didn’t see many Sashiko & Denim done together. As I had shared an analogy with “Aspirin”, damaging the denim for the purpose of mending, and calling it Sashiko Mending, is very culturally distorted & “wrong”. Apply Sashiko stitchings to strengthen the denim fabric when the denim gets a bit soft but before a hole is probably the “original” image of Sashiko & Denim. We can prolong the denim life by Sashiko. Well, eventually, no matter how much we stitch, the denim will get a hole. Then, it is time to mend the denim with Sashiko stitching (if you want). So, I am NOT saying Sashiko mending with denim is all inappropriate. If you happen to have a hole, it is very beautiful to repair it instead of replacing it. I just want to share how “irrational” to see the act of damaging the fabric for the purpose of mending. You would feel the same if one is damaging their health by not-sleeping, yet celebrating the recovery from headache by taking aspirin.

Mending itself is perfectly fine. However, mending isn’t the whole picture of Sashiko. I want them to learn how to stitch throughout the denim first so we can prolong the denim life before mending.


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoMending #VisibleMending #SashikoStory #SashikoDenim #日本の日常 #刺し子 #刺し子デニム


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). 


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


March 23, 2021 at 08:01AM

It was 2020 I wrote the script. After so many struggles, I uploaded the video about “Sashiko & Cultural Appropriation”. It is on our Youtube.

There is a significant “twist” in translation (or filtering) when Sashiko was introduced with “mending”. Many people think Sashiko is a mending technique. It is true that mending is a part of Sashiko, but not sufficient description. Mending is a small part of Sashiko. Let me bring up a challenging analogy to explain this twist.

When we have a headache, we take pain-killer pill. Although there is nothing wrong with pills, it is better to take care of our health so we do not need the pain killer. Sashiko is “self-care (before taking the pill)” and mending is the pill itself. The Japanese practiced Sashiko so they didn’t need to mend so often. Now, people are enjoying Sashiko as if they enjoy taking the pain-killer with neglecting their health. Even more strange, some damage themselves to have a headache so that they can take aspirin (damage the fabric to have “Sashiko mending”). There is nothing wrong with depending on the medicine. However, it is not a core of our health-care. If we start accepting that we all need to take aspirin without caring about our health, or even damaging our brain on-purpose to enjoy the aspirin, something essencial will be lost. 

In 30+ years of my life with Sashiko, I personally never used the word “Sashiko mending” in Japanese. Yes, mending is a very important part of Sashiko, but not the core. Since many misunderstand, when non-Japanese get profit out of this “twist”, then I consider it as “C/A” which I hope I successfully described in the video. Boro is also NOT a word for mending technique (please read the past posts. The description to your question is there).


#Sashiko #JapaneseSashiko #CulturalAppropriation #SashikoStory #Mending #SlowFashion #日本の日常 #刺し子


Sashiko and Prayer

I concluded the 400 seconds presentation on @SelvedgeMagazine with a statement: “Sashiko was a Japanese form of stitching to pray for another day to live…” Then, I received a request to elaborate what I meant by “praying”. Yes, it is my pleasure to do so. However, it requires some conditions to be shared to explain – some Japanese philosophy – which is deeply related to Animism. I added a link to my article about “Sashiko and Animism”. Please find it from my profile link. ☆ As you imagine, the “pray” in this context is a bit different from the western style of praying as defined “to address God with confession or thanksgiving”. The majority of Japanese who lived in Shinto didn’t believe in “One God” asking for forgiveness. They believed each “element” contains the spirit (God), and therefore they appreciated what they had. ☆ “Stitching to pray for another day” represents the “time to be mindful of what they had”. As much as they may have lived in harsh conditions, they appreciated what they had. This is a brief explanation of “Pray” in the context. By the way, it is kind of interesting, but in Japanese Shinto, in my understanding, the “praying for specific spirit” was a type of “contract” between human and spirit. Ah… I am going off from the main topic… anyhow, the Japanese naturally believed in animism in their ordinary, and therefore, the prayer was more like a “custom” to appreciate what they have. I will keep sharing the stories on this. Please read the article first if you are interested.

☆ – – – ☆

どこで読んだのか忘れてしまったのですが、「神道におけるお参り(祈り)とは、つまりは八百万の神様との契約である」という文章に衝撃を受けた覚えがあります。西洋の絶対神への畏れや贖罪とは違い、◯◯するから●●してねという神道的なやり取りは、確かに契約っぽくて面白いなぁと思ったのです。契約って書くと少し嫌な気がするかもですが、でも、あながち的は外してない。 ☆ 現代に生きる僕らは、どうしても僕らの価値基準で物事を判断しがちです。勿論、主観がなければ何事も前に進まないのですが、同時にできるだけ客観的に過去を見つめられると良いなぁと思ったりするのです。刺し子は幻想化されてしまっていて、流れに乗る方が簡単で利も大きいんでしょうけれど、でも文化を語る以上、幻想化されて喜んでる場合じゃないとは思うんですよね。 ☆ #Sashiko #Animism #JapaneseSashiko #SashikoStory #刺し子

March 22, 2021 at 03:00PM