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Thread: Kuyo

  1. #1


    Hi All,
    The topic of Kuyo came up in one of our last Zazenkai. The most well known Kuyo ceremony is the Hari Kuyo, which you can read about below. You can click the link if you want to see the photos everything else from the article I've quoted here:

    In doing the research that we did for the book, we came across this seemingly antiquated, yet enchanting 400-year-0ld Japanese tradition with roots in Buddhism. I can not pretend to truly understand this tradition, but I believe in the underlying ideas of being thankful for my work, and for the tools that I worked hard to achieve my goals. I think that taking time to pause, reflect and look forward towards another year of thoughtful and improved stitching recognizes the value of humility and the sense that I can not do anything completely alone. I need these small needles and I am thankful for them. They have earned their rest.

    In the Hari-Kuyo ceremony, Japanese women gather once a year on Febuary 8th at Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples to thank their worn out needles and pins for good service.

    It is also a time to value the small, everyday objects of daily living and to wish for progress in one’s needle work. In what is known as the Festival of Broken Needles, women gather to offer a funeral-type service by laying the needles to rest in soft jelly cakes or tofu. This burial is meant to bring rest to the needles and wrap them with tenderness and gratitude. This practice reflects the animist belief that all beings and objects have a soul.

    See more images of the Memorial Service for Snapped needles at ... amiya.html

    Further to the idea of laying the needles to rest for good service is the idea that women have many secret sorrows in life. These sorrows are often passed to the needles during long hours of stitching and the needles are thought to take on the burden of some of these sorrows, thus taking them away with the stitching that they do. This “rest” is brought to the needles in appreciation for their faithful service.

    Another aspect of the ceremony is the consideration for “the value of small things.” The concept of Mottainai, or not being wasteful, is related to the usefulness of the needles. These small but important tools would give long, useful service throughout the year. They were not to be lost or wasted nor carelessly replaced.
    Every effort has been made to be sure that this information is accurate. Any inaccuracies or ommissions are the fault of this author, but are respectfully offered for correction.

    This photo, from Quirky Japan Blog, shows one of the mask-wearing attendees at the Shojuin temple Hari-Kuyo ceremony

    1. Hari-kuyo, by David Boyd for the Japan Foundation,
    2. Hiromi Asai, blog. Beauty of Kimono, entry 2-08-09 Needle Mass: Hari-Kuyo, ... -kuyo.html
    3. Hardach, Sophie. Japanese Tailor’s Needles Find Soft Grave in Tofu. Reuter’s U.K.
    4. Matsushita, Tei, blog. Matsushita, entry 3-14-91: Hari-kuyo 1991/03/hari-kuyo.html
    5. Jacob, Ed, blog. Quirky Japan Blog, entry 2-15-09: Hari-Kuyo Pin Festival class="postlink" href=""> ... -festival/
    6. Kestenbaum, David. Website: NPR, entry 2-07-10: Mottainai Grandma Reminds Japan “Don’t Waste” ... d=14054262

    Late addition (2/9/10):

    7. From Pepper Cory, As referenced by KG Sue in the comments on Taniwa’s blog comments
    In Tea Ceremony we hold an end of the year celebration called Joyagama. One of our traditions is to do Chasen(bamboo tea whisk) Kuyo. Holding the Chasen to ones forehead you silently reflect on the past years practice, thank the Chasen for working so hard, and look to the future, then place it into the fire and watch it slowly turn to ash. It is a beautiful practice which I wanted to share a little about.


  2. #2

    Re: Kuyo

    I'm really grateful that you shared this. I've never really thought about my tools as partners in my projects, just as "things" used to get an end-product. I also never considered that as participants, they're taking part in everything that I'm working on, including my mind-set and feelings at the time that I'm working. I'm glad for the reminder to value the small, everyday objects that are at the same time vital and necessary. I won't be wasting any picks, beads, brushes, or sharpies, just because it's so easy to buy a "replacement" from now on. They have to be taken care of and respected now that it's more clear that they're part of me.

    Thank you very much.

  3. #3

    Re: Kuyo

    deep bows...I really overlooked this...

    deep gassho


  4. #4

    Re: Kuyo

    Taking this a step further,I looked up the definition of "tool"

    tool (noun)
    1. an implement, especially one held in the hand, as a hammer, saw, or file, for performing or facilitating mechanical operations.
    2. any instrument of manual operation.
    3. the cutting or machining part of a lathe, planer, drill, or similar machine.
    4. the machine itself; a machine tool.
    5. anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose: Education is a tool for success.

    Now, imagine your body and all it's parts as tools. In particular, we should consider the brain as the most useful tool we have access to.
    Now, give thanks and pay respect but, don't put it to rest as you can certainly use it everyday for the rest of your life

  5. #5

    Re: Kuyo

    Hi All,

    I'm glad that you got something out of this subject which touches me deeply!

    Shokai wrote:
    Now, imagine your body and all it's parts as tools. In particular, we should consider the brain as the most useful tool we have access to.
    Now, give thanks and pay respect but, don't put it to rest as you can certainly use it everyday for the rest of your life
    Very true my friend! Thank you for adding this _/_

  6. #6

    Re: Kuyo

    Nothing to add...much to take away.

    Thanks John.



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