The Festival of Broken Needles

Suellen tells us that yesterday, February 8th, was the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles, or hari kuyo, when Japanese needleworkers will lay their broken pins and needles to rest.  Women take a day off from their sewing chores and take their old or broken needles to the shrines or temples.

Hari Kuyo is a 400-year-old Japanese festival held in Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Broken pins and needles are thanked for their work and laid to rest in a bed of soft jelly or tofu cakes. Stitchers pray for the repose of their needles, improvement of their sewing skills and safety from injury while sewing. 

 Some people believe the tools have souls, and they are treated with care and respect.  We rely on countless helpful tools which are the result of  ingenuity and craftsmanship.  Perhaps celebrating pins and needles and the service they provide reminds us of the many small things we should be thankful for.

 Another aspect of Hari Kuyo is the letting go of personal burdens. In Japan and everywhere there are concerns and complaints that stitchers don’t share with others. They are said to share these with their needles, passing the burdens onto them, so that when the needles are put to rest they take the cares, worries, and sadness with them.  Who among us has not found respite in our stitching?

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