Why Do You call it Sashiko?

Thank you very much for reading our website & Instagram (FB) posts. I really would like to ask for your help here. With encountering one discussion on Facebook, I am confused about what I am doing (saying & writing). It leads to the fundamental question, why do you (they) call it Sashiko? Is my English is so bad that I need to re-start learning how to write?

If this confusion is the matter of me writing too much (or in bad English), and encouraging them (the people who replied) not reading what I wrote, I can understand that. However, if it is actually me that creating confusion – contradicting with each other between what I write & what I say (do), then it is a big problem. Your help would be very much appreciated to share your insights. 


No intention to offend someone particularly.

It is NOT my intention to offend or disrespect anyone. It is the first goal. I am simply so confused. Again, since it isn’t my intention to create the further argument, if possible, please share your comment here or on where you are from (Instagram or my Facebook Page), not in the Facebook page that I will refer to with actual comments.

To follow what is going on, you can check the FB group of “Sashiko” and find the thread started “May 12 at 12:49 AM“. That’s the pretty much only one thread I left the comment, so you should find me (Atsushi Futatsuya) writing a long reply to the conversation starter. I will try to copy and paste as much as I can.

Why Do you call it Sashiko?

In my fundamental understanding of Sashiko trend in non-Japanese regions, they are interested in “Japanese Sashiko”, right? I mean, they use the Japanese word of “Sashiko (刺し子)” so they are trying to learn the Japanese Sashiko. If they are trying to learn the Japanese Sashiko, it is safe to assume that they are interested in the Japanese culture… right?

Otherwise, why do they call it Sashiko?


For those who do not wish to visit Facebook, I try to explain the situation as “objectify” as possible here. After all of the long, many proof-read comments, a person stated that I am NOT generous to share the knowledge. On the other hands, on Instagram, numbers of people show their appreciation that I am generous to share the Sashiko we practice. My confusion is here. What did I miss on the discussion thread? Is it my English? Or, is it (again) that the people will only read & understand only what they want to read & understand…? Please, please help me out here. Since I can “subjectively” look at what I wrote & what I uploaded on Youtube, I cannot find the remedy to this confusion.


On facebook group(s), I come across a lady who asks many questions. As I had replied to her later on, it is okay to ask questions. However, I wanted to share that, in courtesy of Japan, the main principle to be polite is “to avoid troubling the others”. Therefore, the questions should be well-thought and well-researched, as much as their capacity. Also, the person mentioned my stitch as “precise”. As you know, the result of “precise” is NOT the message in the Sashiko I would like to share. She had contacted me directly twice before this Facebook discussion so she should know that I exist & offer a lot of information, yet she didn’t come to understand the most repeated message…? Therefore, after considering thoroughly, I left the message below.


I am sorry to mention this, but I think you need to “practice” before asking questions around. I received 2 messages from you. I see your questions all over the several groups. In my understanding, “Sashiko” can be only learned by practice. Someone with a lot of experience like Sashi.Co or _________ can do the Sashiko which you are looking for. It is getting a bit frustrating (for me) because I felt you are expecting to complete the Sashiko by asking. You need to move your hands and learn from the practice.


There is information to avoid unnecessary detours. The workshops. The books. Videos Online. We try out best to provide them, too. Read Susan’s book carefully over and over again. Watch Sashi.Co videos carefully (although we do not teach specifically like the workshop, there are people who learned a lot & very good at Sashiko now), or take workshops with someone experienced. You need to invest either “time” or “money” to get what you are asking.


Sashiko is well-known as a craft. It may seem to be “a quick hobby to learn”. I am not 100% sure how Sashiko is treated in non-Japanese culture. In my understanding, however, Sashiko is more than a hobby. Since it is more than a hobby, I just wanted to share that, asking the numbers of questions before looking into the information already available can be considered somewhat “rude” in Japanese culture.
I am only saying this because you are trying to learn Sashiko – the Japanese culture. As I keep mentioning in my account, Sashiko is more than “stitching” – which include the appropriate manners of the Japanese culture.


Learn by practice. Steal the technique & wisdom instead of asking. That’s how Japanese mastery developed over time.

The people in this group are very nice. I enjoy the questions and answers here a lot. I learn from the Q&A as well.

However, I couldn’t stop myself to point out this concern from my Japanese cultural perspective. It is not my intention to offend you. I really would like to share the “Sashiko” as the Japanese culture, more than stitching, and would like you to learn it – if you call what you do as “Sashiko”.
To admin: I thought of writing this quite long & decided to do so to advocate the Sashiko we respect. Please delete it if you think it is not appropriate to this group.


Then the lady replied, “It may be more accurate to refer to what I’m trying to do as embroidery.

Well. If so, I have nothing to say more. If she thinks what she does will be categorized non-Sashiko embroidery, my sincere favor to understand the Japanese culture wouldn’t be necessary. My question, “Why Do you call it Sashiko?” will be invalid because she thinks it may not be it.

I thought it was the end of the story. Then, another person shared her question that what I write contradicts. Her comments cited as is below.


I am truly confused. You ask people to learn about Sashiko & the “appropriate manners of the Japanese culture”, but you are not welcoming to her questions. It seems both ideas are in conflict with each other. How is she expected to learn all aspects, without asking questions to the masters?


I understand her confusion, especially in current result oriented society, the answer (to be provided) is very important. So, I try to explain the Japanese culture & manners in asking questions as much as possible. It is quite long. However, I didn’t want to be silent here because “The silence” could alter the culture itself (at least I thought).

Here is a copy of my reply.

I believe 2 ideas are not conflicting with each other. I will explain why.

First of all, I do not intend to discourage the questions in this group. This is a fantastic group to share ideas and questions. I learn a lot by reading questions and answers. Q&A here motivates me to keep uploading more videos and information.

Above said, I will explain (1) about “Japanese Sashiko & Courtesy of Japan” and (2) why I pointed out on this thread. Although it is a quite long reply already, I hope you will read through.

1 – Japanese Sashiko & Courtesy of Japan

Learning Sashiko (indirectly or directly) equals to the understanding (at least respecting & trying to understand) the Japanese culture. One of the significances of Japanese culture would be a unique courtesy. Since I believe Sashiko is more than just stitching technique, I want to share the cultural perspective of Japanese Sashiko. Otherwise, what is the point of calling it “Sashiko”?

One of the main principles of the Japanese courtesy is “Avoid troubling the others”. Asking questions is perfectly fine, but the question needs to be well-thought and well-researched. “Not-knowing” is NOT the problem. Asking questions is NOT the concern. “Taking someone’s time ‘more than necessary’” is the point I tried to share in the previous post. Also, some reasonable appreciation to the one who spent time to answer the questions would be very important.

By the way, in some craftsmanship, “asking questions expecting to get answers” is already considered as “rude”. Well, we (as the Japanese) won’t contradict to you because “contradicting” isn’t in our culture already, but you will be “out-pictured” even if you would like to get the answers from the master. The master will be smiling and the student will get nothing unless they follow the courtesy. The Sashiko I am from is also like that. However, over the Internet where anyone can say anything, it is more valuable to speak up & I made up my mind to “share” the Sashiko we enjoy & practice, which includes the Japanese culture.

I welcome the questions when the question is well-prepared. Of course, I do not expect “everyone” to know me. Therefore, I usually just read through and try to learn from the Q&A, and never pointed out someone’s questions like this before. I share Sashiko so people can learn & I welcome the well-thought questions.

Here is the reason why I pointed out _____’s question regardless of my “welcoming questions” attitude.

1 – She has contacted me twice (and I replied that I do not answer the technical questions because my capacity is limited – I am only available for the workshop graduates for now.) It means she knows that I exist & share A LOT of information on my website, Instagram & FB, and Youtube (I know it isn’t well-organized, but some – many of the answers are available already there).

Then, (I wouldn’t & didn’t point out her comments UNTIL) I saw her one sentence, “He (Sashi.Co) is SO precise”

This sentence is the second reason.

The core message of the Sashiko we practice is, “Sashiko isn’t about making one perfect (precise) stitch. It is about appreciating the fabric & care for others.” By “practicing Sashiko”, by moving the needle (making dialogues to the fabric), then we can fully enjoy Sashiko & its side of mindful stitching. This message is very important to me since it contains so many messages, and it is everywhere on my website & SNS. It made me very sad that I couldn’t communicate to her what Sashiko really can be… so I wrote the comment after thinking thoroughly.

I do not expect everyone to follow the Japanese mastery of “steal the technique by looking and never ask questions”. However, a bit of time to read someone’s wisdom would be the “care” we can do in “result-oriented society”. There are many great books in English, videos, and information out there to find the wisdom (& technique) of Sashiko. I hope the comment wasn’t the form of offending her of asking the questions. I wanted to “educate” her that, ONLY BECAUSE she is interested in Japanese Sashiko, her action may cause unnecessary issues somewhere.

Lastly, I am sorry for naming _____ in my comment. ______ isn’t the only one… in fact, I receive so MANY messages without even “hello” and the same types of questions. To be honest, I am pretty tired of sharing the information to those who wouldn’t show the respect to the Japanese culture (courtesy), Only reason I haven’t stopped is that I feel it isn’t fair to ask someone to understand one culture without us (the Japanese) explaining it. I am now writing how Japanese culture, courtesy of Japan, and Sashiko relates to each other. I hope anyone who is reading my comment this far can check my updates on FB or IG to understand the bigger picture of Sashiko.

As _____ says, if the person thinks “It may be more accurate to refer to what I’m trying to do as embroidery”, I have no problem or frustration. There is nothing to say because I value her/his philosophy and cultural perspective.


In that case, however, one question arises… Why do you call what you do, “Sashiko”?

—–

Again to Admin (or anyone else). Please let me know if this comment is offending someone. It isn’t my intention at all. I have never thought of leaving this kind of comment before, even when the discussion is heated like “what is Sashiko and what is not”. In spite of my strong hopes in Sashiko based on more than 30 years of experience, I believe everyone can have their own Sashiko – after all, Sashiko was an ordinary practice that the ordinary Japanese practiced – there are no rules in Sashiko. I couldn’t, however, to let this go because it is very fundamental of the Sashiko I would like to pass down to the next generation – and share everyone here. If I remain silent, I thought my silence could create “another standard” – which will be an obstacle to learn Japanese Sashiko or bizarre feeling to call your work  “Sashiko”


Thank you for reading this such a long comment. Although I wanted to make it shorter (& I did make it shorter a lot), I still feel a lot of concepts are missing here.

Anyway, as far as my understanding (of English) goes, the comment I made is not asking for the argument… is it? After this long reply I made, I received some of the comments & angry faces from others.

A few examples would be…

Your logic makes me think of this question. Are only experienced & educated chefs allowed in the kitchens? Is a mother not allowed to prepare a simple meal for her family?

Well, did I mentioned that the only experienced & master are allowed to do Sashiko… in this reply? Did I write that? I even say I welcome the question – the one well-prepared. She understood my logic completely opposite. My reply to her is below.

Any mother can prepare a simple meal (or a great meal) for her family. So is (was) Sashiko. Anyone can do Sashiko stitching for anyone.


However, when the mother is preparing a simple “Japanese food” for her family with explaining this is Japanese food, I want her to share the Japanese culture & its tradition as much as possible, especially if the mother has resources to learn.


My point is not being a master or not. It is about the “appreciation” to the culture you are about to learn. Again, if you do not call it Sashiko, I have no problem. I just don’t know why you call it Sashiko without the will to learn Japanese culture. The culture can be changed so easily so I couldn’t be silent.

Then, the discussion leads to the statement that there are other Sashiko teachers more generous than I am. Well, probably. However, this sentence indicates that I am NOT generous… seriously?


What am I missing here?

I sincerely believe that the comments (replies) I made above are the same as what I usually say on Instagram, my facebook page, and on Youtube. I re-read my comments so many times that I cannot find any “missing link” to be a remedy for my confusion.

I do not want to use this excuse, but “English” is my second language. So, it could cause the misunderstanding and results in the contradiction (which makes me pretty sad for that matter…). If it is a case that “Atsushi’s writing is too long so that they got only what they wanted to get”, then it is fine. I understand that everyone has the different value.


Culture can be transformed easily over Internet

There is a reason (motivation) that I started speaking up online – offering tutorials, information, wisdom, and pretty much everything I do (an unedited version of stitching) for free.

I am afraid of the possibility of “Culture transformation without us realizing it.” Over the Internet & Social Networking, the quick & easy (flash) solution gets more value. Google & Alexa will answer any kinds of questions when you ask. We barely doubt that the answer Alexa speaks to you is culturally appropriated (appreciated) or not. Once it is shared, then it becomes the culture.

The Japanese is so bad at “debating” to defend its original form. In some cases, we accept the change and try to protect it within the Japanese (with sometimes labeling the non-Japanese culture as “fake”). The inability to debate is strongly related to the Japanese first history book – Kojiki (written in 712) and related Japanese myth. I am in process of explaining the whole picture of Japanese spirituality and hand-crafting… yet it is so much to share.

I could have remain silence in this case. However, my goal is to share the Sashiko we practice to the world – which is more than stitching – so I decided to step up. I do not want to change the Sashiko culture. It is a pride and dignity as the one who decided to live with Sashiko.


Again, my goal is not to determine which is right or wrong. If they do not agree with what I wrote, that’s perfectly fine. They can find their own “Sashiko” and I am happy with that. I am not THAT kind person & I am perfectly okay with being misunderstood.

HOWEVER, if my writing can cause the confusion for those who have been reading my website & Instagram (&FB) posts, then I CARE. I need to re-write them & apologize for making confusion.

Please, please let me know if you find any mistakes I made in the above replies. I would like to continue this journey of sharing Sashiko, and your help to improve my “expression technique in English” would be very much needed.

Thank you very much for your time to read this much.


Sincerely,

Atsushi Futatsuya

14 thoughts to “Why Do You call it Sashiko?”

  1. Please carry on exactly as you are doing. I really enjoy your writing and explanation of Japanese culture within sashiko. It seems that if people are embroidering just for the visual result, then it isn’t sashiko. Please don’t change anything 🙂

    1. Dear Brown,

      Thank you for your time to leave a comment here. “Japanese culture within Sashiko” is indeed what I would like to share. I won’t change anything. Thank you.

      Atsushi

  2. Hello and thank you for your insight which comes through your posts and videos! I learned of you through one of my students (I teach a class we refer to as Sashiko Basics that starts with choosing and working from a kit made by Olympus). I am by no means a master, simply choosing to share a craft I have fallen in love with over the last year.

    My observation, through teaching this introductory class several times over the last several months, is that there tend to be two kinds of students enrolling (in my specific class). There are those who want ALL of the possible information regarding the fabric, stitches, the threads, needles, patterns and history… and others, who don’t care at all about the history and just want to make something stylish.

    I try to include the bits of history I’ve learned from Susan’s book and provide ample references to shops and sites (like yours) because there’s no way I could possibly have gleaned the amount of information over the last year that you have mastered over your lifetime. So I consider myself a “jumping off” or “getting started” point and implore my students to learn as much as possible – including the reasons WHY sashiko exists and why it is having such a resurgence lately.

    I am primarily a knitting teacher and have amassed quite a wealth of information over the last seventeen years as a knitter and three years of teaching. So I try to cater to all preferences. But it is extremely difficult to make everyone happy, as I am sure you know. Some students complain that I am too talkative. Mainly I have a short period of time to provide information and instruction, and prefer to get as much information out there as possible. It is a tough balance, and I commend you for all you have provided. Thank you.

    1. Dear Tara,

      Thank you for your time to leave the comment here.

      First of all, I appreciate your time and effort to offer Sashiko classes. I am happy to learn someone teaches the Sashiko class as my goal is to share the Sashiko with (some) Japanese culture. One of the core messages I always share is: “There is no right or wrong in Sashiko”. I can feel that you respect Japanese culture, and I am very happy that you share your passion with your students. As much as I speak of “Japanese Sashiko” from my perspective, I respect those who spent so much time and energy to tell/translate/interpret and share Sashiko in English, like Susan you mentioned.

      I do not consider myself a master. If I do, I will be laughed by the others who I admire.
      It is about the attitude to care and appreciate others, I believe.

      For the cultural and historical part of Sashiko, I try to share as much as I can online. One day, I hope I can meet you in one of my workshop or Sashiko gathering somewhere.

      Thank you for sharing.
      Atsushi

  3. Dear Atsushi,

    Do not worry about people taking offense. Just do your passion. You are doing a great service to link sashiko to Japanese culture because that is its richness. The mindset is what makes the beauty of the handwork possible. Like you point out, It is lacking in so much of modern living where anyone can learn anything on the internet and produce stuff to sell but which lacks heart and is not contributing to the humanity in this world. It is much bigger than a few stitches. Thank you for insisting that!

    There are enough of us that get what you are trying to say. Don’t worry about people who want to make you feel bad about you not making them feel good. That is not your job. Just keep shining your own light. I think a lot of “caring and sensitivity” nuances CAN be lost in translation but I really feel you were trying in your responses to the person that felt you were not being generous.

    Also as a side note, when you learn hula, there is a saying that escapes me right now, but it is precisely about not asking questions and just copying the instructor. As you put time and effort into practicing, so many things become apparent for yourself! Making your own “aha!” is an important part of learning something that is not so cerebral.

    Anyway, I love following you on Facebook and I wish again to thank you and Keiko for your hospitality when I stayed at her home and she taught me some Boro technique.

    1. Hello! I hope to watch your videos soon to learn more about sashiko. I think its generous of you to share your techniques and philosophy behind sashiko here, and on IG and FB as well. I look forward to reading more about your philosophy behind sashiko, I find it truly interesting! 🙂
      I follow you on IG but not on FB, and I was unable to find the original post you linked (I’m not on FB and using my phone, so maybe I couldn’t see the original!)– so my apologies in advance if I interpret anything wrong.
      Based on what you quoted here, I think that the people you were responding to might see you as some kind of “gatekeeper” to the knowledge of sashiko. Furthermore, I think they might have interpreted your response as trying to block them from the knowledge of sashiko. However, I think they might not understand that you are a sashiko artisan who, with great time and care, posts accessible information online and responds to commenters on IG and FB generously. (I think many people on social media would not bother to take as much time to post and respond as you do!) They may not have looked into your account or website to see how much you offer. (I dont think you owe any explanation, but maybe if they’d clicked on your account and seen the link to your website they might not have responded so harshly?)
      The reason I think they saw you as being some kind of “gatekeeper” is their comment about “a mother preparing a small meal for her family”. This is complicated, but I think they may have thought you were looking down on them, when in fact you were asking them to look at the information already available, which was what they were asking for!
      A bit of history which you may or may not know (and I am not an expert, sorry if I mis-represent anything here!):
      Many of the crafting arts in western culture that were practiced traditionally by women (embroidery, quilting, etc) have historically been viewed as being “not real art” since they were practiced by women, who were viewed as men by inferior. However, arts that were dominated by men (e.g. oil painting, sculpture), and which used more expensive and less accessible materials as a needle and thread and fabric, were seen as “real art” or “important art”, or even, “art that has a deep philosophical message”. Nowadays, western embroidery, needlework, etc are being highlighted more in fine arts and museums, hoping to make up for these arts that were sidelined due to misogyny.
      So, historically, men were seen as the “gatekeepers” of art and would dictate what was art. I’m not saying that, in your situation, they thought you were telling them that they dont make real art! But I do think that some people who practice embroidery, etc, and might become interested in sashiko– these people might not take kindly to those who ask them to research more. What they dont understand is that they are actually reaching beyond western embroidery, into Japanese culture, where the same power structure does not necessarily exist. They may have thought others were not being respectful towards them, when they were actually not being respectful of the new world that they are stepping into.
      I’m not sure if the above has anything to do with how these people interacted with you, but I think they may have objected to what they (perhaps!) saw as you telling them not to ask questions. I think they’re a bit misguided because you weren’t saying that, you were asking them to be respectful and telling them to look for their answers where info had already been posted!
      I also think they also dont realize that, in practicing sashiko, they are appropriating Japanese culture. “Cultural Appropriation” has a negative meaning in English, and people of white European background especially should be careful not to appropriate in ways that will offend the culture they are appropriating. I am white and am learning the Japanese language, so I am appropriating Japanese culture… but this kind of appropriation is not necessarily bad or offensive to Japanese people. (I hope it’s not, anyway!) But when I practice Japanese arts such as sashiko, I should be careful to learn with respect and not, for example, use small bits that “look pretty” without understanding what they mean, how to do them, or what they are used for– lest I offend Japanese people and those who practice sashiko. (This is not the best explanation of “cultural appropration”, sorry!)
      Sorry again for the long response, i hope I didnt make things more confusing or offend you in any way, Atsushi-san. I just think a bit of Western art history might provide context for these people you were responding to. If you would like me to clarify further, I would be happy to!

      1. Dear Chris san,

        Very interesting. Thank you for your time to share your insight.
        “Gatekeeper” umm. Did you feel that? I agree with you that they felt like it. I am sometimes called “Sashiko evangelist” with the irony of how much I love its culture. Another confusion I had is that I emailed them about the accessible information is here. So it is still outside of my understanding of why it was not an option to read a bit of information.

        Your insight provides me another perspective: gender rule.
        I occasionally wish (wished) to be a woman because of a part of me thinks the Sashiko can be fully expressed when I become a woman. It was the work by women. I try to respect and represent the women’s perspective because Sashiko was the women’s work, but it is a good learning that people may look at me differently because of my gender… very interesting.

        I am still learning the concept of Cultural Appropriation. I read some articles about it, but it doesn’t come into me yet. Need to read more. As I mentioned after this post (and I will post later on), the Japanese accept the transformation of culture pretty well. Frankly speaking, I am perfectly fine if you just enjoy the small bits that look pretty. I enjoy the modification of Sashiko, and therefore I keep saying it isn’t right or wrong in Sashiko. “Oh, Sashiko looks cool. Let’s try it.” is perfectly fine, moreover, I welcome that. Therefore I share the videos.

        The reason I got frustrated and confused would be these 2. (1) come initially, then (2) happened in FB and my brain just got blown out.

        1. My name was used in a comment to compare her stitching (result) in a context that the result is more important than anything, and the result would be acquired by asking questions. I politely asked to “practice” first before asking around, especially because I had provided her the information resource (not the actual answers). I tried to be polite and logical, yet they didn’t get the point, so I start worrying if my English is the problem. Confusion & Frustration.

        2. Then another jumped in and telling me “let it go”. I dare not let it go since it is my identity. I knew her before because she had contacted me and introduced herself to someone who studies & respect Japanese culture. I am not sure anymore. Look at you, Chris san. I do not know how many years you have been studying Japanese, but look at how many times you apologized in this comment lol – and the apology are no mean necessary, but you do apologize for some reasons :D. I assume it is because you understand (or culturally brain-washed… sorry) by courtesy of Japan, to not to trouble someone unnecessary – saying one’s opinion can be troublesome for some Japanese, so you keep apologizing just in case you accidentally make a mistake. This process, being mindful of what you say & kind of messed up mindset, is something I understand that they learn Japanese culture deeply (I am not asking everyone to master or brainwashed by this, but “let it go” is just not in the Japanese culture). Samurai never let it go when it comes to their identity… they either… well, I will stop it here.

        Again, thank you very much for your insight. It helps me to learn more, and now I hope I can share in better form to the larger population.

        Best,
        Atsushi

        1. Hi Atsushi san,

          Thanks for responding!
          Based on what I’ve read in your post and response, to be honest, I think it was laziness on their side to be taking advantage of a social media platform where they expect everyone to answer their questions right away. Not a good mindset to have! I thought I would give the context of the whole “men gatekeeping art” issue– not at all to accuse you of being a gatekeeper (I dont think you are!) — but since it’s been something I’ve been thinking about lately. This interaction interested me because I was wondering if that history of needlecraft in the west had any influence on their response to you.
          Anyway, thank you again for all your insights into sashiko/the philosophy of sashik!o
          P.S. I think the number of times I said “sorry” has a little bit to do with learning Japanese, and a lot more to do with the fact that I’m Canadian. It’s a similarity between Japan and Canada that we apologize a lot!

    2. Dear Joyce,

      How are you!? It is so good to hear from you!!
      Thank you for your time to leave the comment and assuring my journey.

      So interesting about learning hula. “As you put time and effort into practicing, so many things become apparent for yourself!” just indeed that I wanted to (and did) share. I used a jigsaw puzzle as an analogy. Asking where one piece goes doesn’t really share the experience of the puzzle. Unless you move your hands, the puzzle doesn’t get apparent. Well. Umm. It is a good example in English as well. I will write the full article later on.

      If you have another chance to visit Japan, please let us know. Keiko enjoyed the time with you, and I am sure she would be happy to have you again. So am I 😀

      Sincerely,
      Atsushi

  4. 淳さん こんにちは。IGでポストしたKyokoKeeこと恭子と申します。
    このページのコメントとウェブサイトの他の内容を読ませていただいた後、おそらく私の経験から書けるレベルの事はすでにわかってらっしゃると思いました。私自身も藍染の文化や製品を紹介しようと色々企画中で、私なりに大切だと思うポイントを要約しました。

    1. 異文化のことを語るとき 目に見えない部分、精神的な面や抽象的な概念は、良くも悪くも意図した様には伝わらないと思った方ががっかりせずにすむということ。

    2, 言語能力のレベルの問題ではなく、言語の性質上、”Lost in Translation” は必ずどこかで起こるということ。

    3, Result-Oriented的な姿勢は 無意識のレベルの行動パターンなので そうではない文化を経験したことがない人にとって それを指摘されると”Offend”とまでは行かなくても不快に感じる人も多いということ。

    ”土俵”が違う”ってIGにコメントされていましたが、異文化=違う土俵 だと思うので同じ土俵に入ってきて共有するという意識がない、または淳さんの思われるレベルの熱意を注ぎ込めない人の方が多勢だと思いますし、自己意識をそこまで変えるっていう事は生まれた国でずっと住んでいる人にとっては 想像以上に大変な事なんだと思います。
    なので、今回の誤解のケースは言葉で追っかければ追っかけるほどその人もわからなくなってしまう様に思いますので”Let it go”が一番じゃないでしょうか。時間がたてば分かるかもしれないですし、そう思うことが淳さんのおっしゃる”Caring”の一つじゃないかとも思います。
    熱心に文化レベルで学ぼうとする人たちに伝えていく事の方が そうでない人たちの気持ちを引き入れる努力より刺子文化の伝播により効果的じゃないでしょうか?
    部分的に上手く言い得ていないところもありますが時間があれば質問してください。FB IG このウェブサイト、いつも尊敬と感謝の気持ちで参考にさせて頂いています。
    頑張ってください。

    1. 菊池 様

      ご丁寧なコメントありがとうございます。心より感謝申し上げます。
      「部分的に上手く言い得てない」なんてとんでもない。しっかり伝わりました。ありがとうございます。

      日本語で、私の思いをお伝えできる良い機会なので、お返事をさせて下さい。
      菊池様が要約下さったことにすべからく同意するとお伝えした上で、気持ちを書きます。

      1. 今回の件は「直接会って話ができていれば」起こらなかった事例です。意図した様に伝わらなかったのは残念ですが、がっかりはしていないのです。何度も経験していることなので。「刺し子に興味がある=日本文化に興味がある」という「前提」で苦言を呈したのが引き金の一つだろうなと思います。その前提は私が大事に思っていることなので、後悔はしていません。

      2. 今回の件で勉強になっているのが、言語の性質と言語背景にある文化です。これについては、「Aha-Moment」的なことが昨日あったので、またブログにてご紹介できればと。意図して感情的な文章を書くまでは、丁寧に、相当熟考して文章化したつもりですが、なかなかに難しいです。でも、それがやっぱり「学ぶ」ということなんだろうと思っています。

      3. 「無意識レベルの行動パターン」。実はこれこそが、私が刺し子を通して、「社会に影響を与えたいこと」の大事な要素だったりします。傲った考え方かもしれませんが……。多くの方が、「Sashiko = Mindful Stitching」と表現するようになり、その「無意識レベルの行動を、意識化レベルにまで落とし込む」という習慣を紹介したいのです。この影響は、文化での違いはありません(米国文化だからそれを伝えたいという訳じゃなく、自分の文化や行動に”これは大丈夫か?”と自問自答できる時間を作る習慣のことなので、どの文化にも当てはまります)。私にも勿論、無意識レベルの行動があります。それを刺し子を通して、無心で針を持つ時間を通して、見つめ直せるようになれればと思っているのです。Cross-cultralで問題が起こるのは、この「無意識パターン」が主な理由の一つだと思っています。前提と言い換えてしまうと乱暴かもしれませんが、でも、「無意識に相手に求めて行動すること」という意味合いでは、前提に似ていると思っています。その無意識レベルの行動に支配されないことで、世界の争い事が少しでも減ればいいなぁ……なんて。

      上記を踏まえた上で、今回の件にもう一度目を向けます。
      もしよろしければ、上記を一読頂いて、私の一番最初の「苦言を呈したコメント」から話を追って頂くと、また違った見方ができるかもしれません。

      菊池様へのご返信を書く中で、「前提」としてご理解頂きたいのが、「刺し子に興味がある。刺し子をしている。」と言っている人に向けての苦言だったということです。
      つまり、私からの目線では、土俵はすでにこちら側なんです。全く違う土俵で相撲をとっていると思っていない所から始まっています。これがもし、西洋刺繍のグループだったら、苦言を呈する事自体起こっていません。

      雑な例えをインスタにも挙げましたが、日本式の家に土足で家にあがられて、それを注意したら逆ギレされた……という感覚です(笑)。「日本式の家とは知らなかった」と言われればそれまでですし(それはそれで受け入れて、次回気をつけてねという話になるだけ)、普段は私の家までこないので文句を言ったこともなかったのですが、今回に限り「私の名前を比較対象に使われた=巻き込まれた=家にあがられた」と解釈して、苦言を呈しました(それ以前に何度か不快なやりとりがあった方で、それでも丁寧に対応した後だったということもあります)。

      まぁ、日本式の家で、綺麗な畳の上を土足で歩いていたら、他人の家であってもいい気持ちはしないですけれど(とはいえ、それを指摘するだけのこともしませんが)。なので、「熱意のレベル」だとは思っていません。「気がつくかどうか」と「気が配れるか」なんです。挨拶、気配り、感謝。あとは「読み取る気があるかどうか」。実際、「読み返したら誤解していかもしれない。謝りたい。」と嬉しいコメントを下さった方もいました。

      また、Let it Goに関しても、完全同意です。
      売られた喧嘩は買いますが、必要以上に誰かを追い詰めようとは思っていません。なので、もうこの件は”I have Let it Go”なんです。この件は終わったことですし、また「あの時は悪かった」と具体的な謝罪と一緒に戻ってこられた際には、受け入れるつもりです。仰るように、時間が経てば読み取り方も違ってくるかもしれません。ただ……、最後に参加された方、私に何の文脈もなく”Let it Go”と言われた方はいけない。あれは駄目です。”Let it go”には、様々な意味があると思いますが、こうやって丁寧にご説明頂いた上での”Let it Go”は、次に繋がるLet it Goです。Caringなんです。ただ、流れに任せた”Let it go(もういいじゃない)”は、私のアイデンティティに繋がる所での議論だけに、これだけは侮辱として受け取らざるをえません。ましてや、その本人が「私は日本文化に理解がある」という説明をしている以上、もうほかの解釈の余地がない。今回、許せないほど侮辱されたなあと思うのは、その一言だけです。後はまぁ、ムカついた……くらいの感じです。(誤解を招くといけないので追記ですが、菊池様のLet it goは全く侮辱として感じてはおらず、とても建設的なアドバイスとしてありがたく思っています)。

      仰る通り「学びたい」と言って下さる方に伝えるほうが効果的ですし、私の目的でもあります。なので、「刺し子は刺繍だぜ!」って言っている方を探しにパトロールに行って、わざわざ苦言を呈することはありません(そういう方もいるらしいですが……w)。聞かれれば答えますし、非難されれば一度受け止め、謝罪もしくは反論をします。でも、私達の刺し子に興味を持って下さる方にお伝えすることのほうが百万倍大切です。

      その上で、今回、敢えに敢えて苦言を呈した理由が、「文化の上書きをされるかもしれない」と懸念したからでした。刺し子についての質問をされるのは良いんです。それが米国での文化だとは理解しています。ただ、不思議なことに、問題の発端となったFBのグループでは、皆様の質問が、「それなりに精査されている質問が多かった」ということです。1年以上参加していますが、不快なことはほとんどなかった。もちろん、「調べればわかるじゃん」と思う質問も多々あるのですが、でも、それほど頻繁ではなく、またグループそのものは質問の場というよりも、刺し子の紹介の場という感じでした。様々な人の、様々な刺し子の解釈が楽しくて私も参加していました。

      今回の発端となった方は、質問をひたすら繰り返していたのです。時にはその人の質問だけでブラウザが埋まってしまう程に。しかも同じ質問を複数グループに投稿し、且つ質問への答えへのお礼も少ない。挙げ句には「以前質問したのがどこだったか覚えてないけれど……」と、他の質問を始める始末。呆れてしまい、そして怖くなったんです。

      「もし、他のメンバーの方が、この日本的じゃない行動を、”あぁ、彼女がしているんだから私もして良いんだ”と理解してしまった、刺し子の多様性を認めるどころか、文化そのものの変容になってしまうんじゃないか」

      この恐怖こそが今回の一番の動機です。(その上で私達の動画のスクリーンショットをばらまきだしたり、私の名前を使ったり……と、もう「黙る」という選択肢はなかったんです。一番最初に考えたのは、Let it Goなんです。実際、なんどもLet it Goした後に、敢えての苦言です。)

      最後になりますが、在米邦人で日英両言語(文化)をご理解されている菊池様のような方からのコメント、とても嬉しく、そして有り難く思っております。本当にありがとうございます。日本語って素晴らしいな……と。3日睡眠不足と戦いながら書き続けて、悩んで、考えて、必死で文章にしたことが、言語が英語から日本語に変わることで、たった1時間弱で纏めることができました(笑)今後お付き合い頂く中で、今私がここに書いたことと、英語でコメントしていることで、「矛盾」が発生していたら、ご指摘頂ければ幸いです。これまでに英語でコメントしたことの中にも矛盾があれば、お教え頂けると助かります(5/15の私がブチ切れた後の投稿は除いて下さい……あれは意図的に矛盾させているところもあるので)。英語……あんまり自信ないんすよねー(これは本当に自信なく、矛盾があれば言語の問題の可能性もあって、それは本当に謝る必要があるので)。

      藍染めをされているとのこと。またどこかでお会いしてご挨拶できる日がくるのでは……と思っております。引き続き、どうぞ宜しくお願い致します。

      1. 淳さん、返信ありがとうございます。多少なりともお役に立てて嬉しいです。

        『刺し子に興味がある=日本文化に興味がある という 前提』
        まさにおっしゃる通りその「前提」部分がずれていた故の結果ですね。今、日本文化は世界中で注目をあびていますが、先に英語でコメントされているTaraさんも仰ってる様に、精神的な部分や歴史背景にまで触れ、学びたいと思う人はやはり少ないんじゃないでしょうか。クラフトホビーとして楽しみたい人にとっては「興味」はあるけどそこまでできない、またはある程度までで「わかったつもり」というのが実状なのじゃないかと思うんです。

        『前提』は英語でいうPresumption、そして場合によっては、Prejudice(偏見)、Ignorance(無知)とDivisive(対立)に繋がり、今、世界的な問題の元凶になっているのは明らかですね。それ故「無意識に相手に求めて行動すること(パターン)」を(刺し子を通じて)見つめ直す時間を作る。これって素晴らしいと思います! 国や文化の違いを超える普遍概念だと思います。結果だけが重要なら概念は不必要だしそれは文化ではないと思います。

        「Sashiko = Mindful Stitching」の由来する「Mindfulness」という意識は分野を超えて世界的に広がってると思います。と同時にこれは「Sustainability」(持続、継続可能性)という切迫した環境問題にも繋がります。刺し子文化が限られた中からいかにして無駄なく物資を使い、感謝の気持ちを込め(Mindfulness) て再生するために自然との共生を常に考える、という日本古来の伝統である事の証ですね。因みに「Mindfulness」は今アメリカのビジネスの場でも最も重要なコンセプトの一つとされています。

        『苦言を呈した』と書かれてますが、英語の返信の転載部分は私には十分に丁寧だと思え「提言」(Suggestion)に聞こえます。問題になった人の グループやネットの公共性を無視した様な質問の原文を読んでないので断言できないですが、オープンなSNSのグループでは必ずいるUnmindfulなタイプだと想像できるので、淳さんの返信は非常に的を得ていると思いました。FBの多くのグループが登録制になっているのはそういうケースへの一つの防御策ですね。

        『文化の上書きをされるかもしれない』
        2千年以上続いてきた文化、そんなに簡単に変えられるものではないと信じたいです。少なくともこのケースは、極端な商業主義が引き起こしている一過性の消費(Fashion業界によくある例)や、最近見聞きする明らかに人気取り目的(日本人含めて)によるネットでの日本文化を材料にした情報発信に比べると心配には及ばないと思いますが。。。

        最後になりましたけど英語、しっかり書かれてると思いますよ。日本語の曖昧(丁寧)な表現を英語にする、または英語で言われると と言い方がきつい(直接的)、と思えることがありますが、そこが私のいう言語の性質(文化の背景)の違いということですね。奥様から聞かれたことあるかと思いますが、欧米少なくともアメリカでは論争しても感情的にならずに人間関係を保つ(特にビジネスや政治に置いて)というのはとても重要で、中高校生ぐらいからそういうことは学校教育の一部になっていると思います。

        あとひとつCHRISさんが触れている“Cultural Appropriation” については私も色々思うとこありで長くなるのでまた別の機会にポストしたいと思います。

        なんか偉そうな事書きましたが私自身は、私にできるやり方で日本の伝統の良い部分を伝えていく、というのを生活や仕事の指針にしていますが、時間的制約もあり体験的実践できてないのが現状です。:-(
        本業はNYのファッション企業で色々なデザインをやっていますが、日本の伝統文化をベースにした活動(ビジネスになるかどうかは別として)にもっと移行したいなと思っていますので、淳さんのこちらで開催されるワークショップにいつか参加できること楽しみにしてます。それまでに練習しておきますのでこちらこそ宜しくお願いしま〜す。
        恭子

  5. Thank you very much for this discussion and for “Mindful Reading” post. It is very valuable to read about the cultural context of sashiko. To me it is the most interesting part. Some only value the result- what does it look like in the end, what pattern, what project, what thread, what tools, what cloth, how symmetrical and precise, how pretty. America generally is a very result-oriented culture, not very mindful about the process of anything. I think it is mostly rooted in capitalism ; if something is not a finished object, you can’t sell it. (If you can’t sell it, is it even worth anything?”) So people just want to know how to get to a nice end result quickly. Process is not valued.

    The quickest way to get knowledge is to ask someone who knows. Quick asking, quick knowledge, quick reading, quick stitching. Everything quick and efficient so as to achieve result, to be productive. But losing everything else that cannot be sold: experience, joy, investigation, learning, mastery, just being present in time. Plus being blunt in speech and demanding, lack of politeness and consideration for teachers is a casualty.

    People, especially Americans, get offended by being told something they did is rude in another culture. (Even though they are often told they are rude, so it should not be a surprise.) When you told them, it was to communicate a fact in order to help them understand and learn Japanese culture. They interpret it as an accusation that they are a bad person, or that you are disappointed/angry with them. The defensive nature is usually because of pride, embrassment or ego.

    Personally, I would be grateful if someone told me something is rude, so I can avoid offending someone in the future. There are many things that Americans would never know is rude in other countries.

    For example, everything for food and drink in America is “to go”; it is normal to eat or drink a coffee when walking around town or on the way to work. Everyone is in a rush. No time to stop. When my Dutch friend came to visit, he ordered a coffee but then sat down to drink it. He was looking at his watch worrying about the time because we needed to catch a train. I told him we can walk if he wanted. He looked at me strangely and said he was not done with his coffee. I looked at him strangely and said he could drink it while we were walking. He was incredulous “I would never! What if I spill it on somebody? Or drop it?” I suddenly realized that to him, walking with a full cup of coffee would be rude. We laughed about it, because I had no idea, but I was happy to know before my trip to Amsterdam.
    Please continue to bring the Japanese culture along with the technique if you can. It makes a very rich experience for those who are truly interested in Japanese shashiko as it’s intended. I will be coming down for a class in NY as soon as I can. Thank you again for your patience and introspection. I will go back and read everything mindfully again. And I am open to any corrections or questions. Thank you Atsushi- san

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