for the repose of needles

February 8th marks the observance of Harikuyo, Japan's Festival of Broken Needles. A celebration thought to be several hundred years old (I've read it originated in the Edo period, or 16th century-19th century, and have also read that it stretches back to the 4th century AD!) Harikuyo is a memorial service and a ritual of thanks and respect for the tools of sewing. Broken sewing needles and bent pins that gave their "lives" during the past year are laid to rest in a bed of ritual tofu and buried or dropped at sea. Observed in shrines and temples across Japan, it reflects Shintoist traditions of veneration of the spirits of the dead and prayers said for the repose of souls.

Shintoism aspires to an ideal of harmony with nature and states that all things– living and nonliving – contains a kami or "spiritual essence" (sometimes translated as "god," "soul" or "spirit").

When a tool (in this case, a needle) has done its part– finished its valued service–it is relegated to a sacred place, and in some small sense, it is not forgotten.

image: "pin forest" by aleash

1 comment:

Florizelle said...

Hans Christian Andersen was not very shintoist : see his story, The Darning-Needle.

AmitiƩs de Paris


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