Monday, February 7, 2011

Preparing for Hari-kuyo

A few weeks ago, my friend Carol Anne from Threads Across the Web posted about the Festival of Broken Needles (Hari-kuyo) on Stitchin Fingers. The Festival is held in Japan every February 8 and she has invited everyone to join her on that day, tomorrow, to do something in celebration of their needles. Tomorrow, we invite all of you to celebrate your needles by uploading pictures that honor the tools that have served you so humbly over the past year, your pins and needles.

Picture from Reuters

This festival has always fascinated me since I saw the Awashimado Hall at the Senso-ji shrine in Asakusa, Japan.

Having lived in Japan for three years in the '90s, I came to appreciate how the Japanese honored not just needles...but many of the tools and implements used in their work such as calligraphy brushes, broken combs and even lab animals.

Here's a picture of me on the steps of the shrine when Jim, Jack and I visited Japan in 2004...

On February 8, the sewers and kimono makers of Japan will come to the shrine, bringing their broken needles and pins that have served them throughout the previous year. Hari means "needle" and kuyo means "memorial service". The needles/pins are placed into tofu or konnyaku (a gray potato-based jelly that I have never liked--as far as I'm concerned it's only good for sticking needles in!!) The soft tofu is to soothe the needles after their many hours sewing through thick fabric.

Sitting on those steps, I couldn't help but feel some connection to all of those sewers who have come to that place...

The Japanese believe that all things have a spiritual energy and have great respect for the objects used in their daily life. It is important to be respectful of a needle's service and not be overly wasteful by thoughtlessly tossing these items away.

The women bring their needles to their final resting place, thank the needles for their service, and pray that the needles power and energy will stay with them and help to improve their sewing skills in the coming year.

There's a lot more to the tradition so I found this beautiful self-published pamphlet that explains the festival better than I ever could.

Since there is no sewing on Hari-kuyo which is tomorrow. I'll be making a special needle case today, to share with all of you tomorrow.

I hope you'll join us for our virtual festival. Check back here and on Stitchin Fingers tomorrow for more on Hari-kuyo.


Rachel said...

Hmm.. I'll have to bear this in mind for next year, as I've no old needles to dispose of!

Gerry Krueger said...

Boy this is a powerful post to someone who cherishes her needles like I do... I can always pick out my favorite needles at a glance because they are bent to fit my grip... I will photo one for the festival....Gerry K.

Unknown said...

hi susan, i stumbled onto your blog after seeing your comment on my publication. really happy to find someone who appreciates it! thanks! actually i produced a flyer and a souvenir along with the booklet as well. you can take a look at it here:

thanks once again! :)


Dees said...

WOW, what a marvelous post! I love the idea, the insight... the thoughts started tumbling over eacht other in my mind when reading your post. To bad that just at the moment I thought: tomorrow I could start on a needle-case to celebrate... I read that there is no sewing on Hari Kuyo. Hm, guess I'll just have to go on the lookout for some broken needles and make them a resting place later on.
Thank you so much for sharing this!

Catherine said...

What a wonderful tradition! I love that they put the needles into the tofu to soothe them!

flyingbeader said...

Then I'm going to dig out the three 12 needles that I warped so bad these past two weeks that they are unusable & save them for Hari-Kuyo. They definitely served me well

Queen Bee's Musings said...

What a wonderful tradition that I had no idea about! Thank you for sharing and I will cherish my needles tomorrow.

Ingrid Mida said...

What a beautiful and moving ceremony in honour of something so humble.

Robbie said...

What an interesting post!!! Love hearing about traditions and lifestyles..

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I have never heard of Hari-kuyo before, but there have been several mentions of it this year.

I have always been interested in Asian traditions and spiritual beliefs.

I didn't know you had spent time in Japan. How wonderful that you could see their needlework in person, you love it so much!
xx, Carol

Sandi Jo said...

I was hoping to see a pic of the bean curd with needles stuck in it.

Heather said...

I've never heard of this before now. What an interesting thing.

Great photo of you, with what looks to me like a Kipling handbag.

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