Keiko Futatsuya, my mother / a Sashiko Artisan in Japan, visited an unbelievable place regarding a hidden Sashiko/Boro culture – Tokiyama Sashiko (時山さしこ）. In a very small village called Tokiyama, where there are no grocery stores around, the people discovered their own Sashiko culture in 1990’s from the ground. The seniors tried to hide their Boro by burying them. A few generations later, the people there found out the culture, and dig out the Boro from Ground.
The people in Tokiyama tried to pass the culture down to the next generation by exhibiting Sashiko/Boro pieces and sharing Sashiko workshops in their small exhibit room.
The people (Sashiko practitioners in Tokiyama) knew about Keiko from her previous work as the designer in Hida Sashiko. They warmly welcomed her and share their story with her and her friends.
Yes. I mention it right. Discovered Boro from Ground
We, who live in the 21st century, value BOROs as a beautiful art piece. Patches and repeated stitching make unique “Visual Art” like abstract drawing or mosiac art. In the past, a few hundred years ago, the Japanese had completely different feeling toward Boro in comparison to the value we have today. The feeling was opposite side of the beautiful & luxery item. It was the shame. Regardless of its beauty, the BOROs were the symbol of Shame for them who lived in Japan for that time.
In Tokiyama village, Sashiko repaired Jacket probably represented how bad “poverty” there were. People considered the more a family possesses Boros (or Jacket/pants with mending), they considered the poor the families were. They felt ashamed of wearing Boros and repaired Sashiko jacket, which they didn’t have any choice not to do. When they had a pile of Boros and mended clothes which they couldn’t repair much any longer, they bury Boros in the ground to hide the shame they held.
In 1990’s, people learned that there was a Sashiko culture in Tokiyama hundreds of years ago from that time. They dug the BOROs and Sashiko jacket from the ground. Indeed. They found Boro from Ground. Some of them transformed its touch, the cotton became like a felt after getting the pressures under the ground.
Unbelievable Testimony of Sashiko by Tokiyama Sashiko
Sashiko formed its culture in many places in Japan. Many places where are rural places with a lot of snow and severe winter had the similar culture (probably named similarly to Sashiko). In these places, they developed their own Sashiko culture where Sashiko was a work for women to repair men’s jacket. Regardless of the numbers of culture’s footprints, it has been very challenging to make a research about Sashiko. We know that they existed. However, as the people in Tokiyama buried their pieces, many Japanese tried to “hide” the fact so that they thought they wouldn’t pass down the poverty to their precious children.
Tokiyama Sashiko gave us a hint of understanding the difficulty of discovering the Sashiko history. People felt ashamed of having the Boro and heavily pactched Sashiko Jackets. This great opportunity with Tokiyama Sashiko opened up the possibility to learn more about Sashiko.
We will visit them again, ask questions, and try to pass “Sashiko” down to the next generation together, without burying them in the ground.
Wait for the update!