Sashiko - Japanese Traditional Folk Broidery

Learn something new each day - that is one of my many mottos, and here at Kurashi, I do try to keep things that way. Then I realized I know next to nothing about clothes. Fashion? Sorry, I'm not your guy, as you probably know if you... but I digress.

I had the pleasure of meeting sashiko artist Hagiwara Hisako who says she cannot do straight stitches, she is just not that kind of gal... She loves to talk about recycling  old cotton from when Japan grew the stuff, and spends endless hours on a single purse or pot holder...

Most are dyed with indigo, that special hue that was so loved in rural Japan before synthetic dyes became commonplace, because the indigo could be grown and produced locally. Hagiwara Hisako only works by hand, and all her sashiko are all handmade, of course.

Her works of art will be shown abroad for the first time at Murberget, the Prefectural Museum in Norrland, Sweden this fall.

More about sashiko embroidery patterns.

Do check out this Wikipedia entry for Traditional colors of Japan... Most names of colors originate from the names of plants, flowers, and animals that bore or resembled them. Certain colors and dyeing techniques have been used since the Asuka period, while others had been developed as late as the Meiji period when synthetic dyes became common. Note that due to the long history of use of this color system, some variations in color and names do exist.

Indigo has many names, and there is great confusion even about simple things like traffic lights. Is that "green" or "blue" when you are supposed to drive...? How fascinating, the entire scale from green to blue to purple...

Sashiko was also a way to recycle and use cloth for a long time. How different from today, when we buy anything as cheap as possible. And, on the other hand, real quality garments are too expensive.

I am mostly interested in food, where we have all the same issues. I do wish I could wear clothes that came from fibers grown by farmers I knew, and sewn by people I could be confident did not endure conditions like the recent Bangladesh disaster at the Savar Building, with over two thousand victims, from just one factory.

Photo of Hagiwara-sensei at her home in south Tokyo, by Swedish freelance journalist Ingela Höfsten.


Pandabonium said…
We have some dining place mats stitched with these kinds of blue materials which we bought at Seizan-so, the retirement home of the Second Duke of Mito, Mitsukuni Tokugawa. So nice to see the traditions carried on.

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