Sunday, 6 February 2011


From Susan Fletcher
Alderspring Design
               Festival of broken needles tofu cake
February 8 is the Festival of Broken Needles (Hari-Kuyo) in Japan.  It is the day when women gather to lay their broken needles to rest in a decorated bed of tofu.

This is a 400 year old tradition, and continues yet. Women will gather to lay their broken needles to rest, and to wish to honor them more by becoming more careful and skilled in their sewing in the year to come.

Why tofu? As far as I can work out it is probably because tofu is soft, so by laying the needles in tofu they are given a gentle resting place after all their hard work.

This festival derives from the cultural respect for the small and everyday objects.  Sometimes the resting place for the needles will be three tiers, the bottom containing other small sewing tools, the middle holding the tofu to receive the broken needles and the top containing sweets or baked goods as offerings.

Another idea I encountered while looking for information about this festival was the idea that as women sew they often think about their secret sorrows and hardships, and these thoughts go into their needles.  As they ceremonially lay the broken needles to rest, they may also lay these sorrows to rest. 

This is an invitation to all of you to join me on Feb 8 in pausing for a little while to honor our broken needles and pins by doing something with them. 

On Feb 8 take a bit of time to pause and reflect on the work and the pleasure all your different needles and pins give you, and join us in honoring these simple hardworking tools.  

Here are some suggestions for how you might do that:
-make your own broken needle resting place with a block of firm tofu and decorations
-make a small applique or stitchery about (broken) needles, or collage with broken needles
-make a new needle case
-collect together and organize you pins and needles
-simply make an artistic photograph of your needles, pins, pincushions, needle cases...

Whatever you choose to do, take a photograph and email it to me. I will be posting the photographs here until the end of February. You can include a short sentence or two to accompany it.  

For links to more about the Festival of Broken Needles go to Sashiko Stitchers and look for the links in the right sidebar. 

I am, of course, hoping you will send me photographs to put on the sashiko stitchers site!  I will post them until the end of February. 
Email them to either address

Added 7th February 2011 - 
This is what I have done for hari-kuyo this year:

I lined a small box with a piece of wadding and then laid my needles and pins to rest on it, thanking them for the work they have done and what they have helped me create during the past year.
I made a small quilt for the pins and needles and covered them with it.
Finally I put the lid on the box and tied it with ribbon.


  1. Thanks Lis for reminding us on the special day Hari-Kuyo, I remember passing this on to my Japanese students and they were impressed that we know of their customs - Hugs Nat

  2. this is a wonderful and poetic idea. What a pity that I've jumped here today and not yesterday!Thanks for sharing. Tiziana

  3. I'm a day late! But thanks so much for reminding me of this practise and I'm sure the gods won't mind if I'm a bit late with my offering.

  4. I just discovered your blog,love it but need some time to visit all the postings. I'll be back

  5. I love this article and the festival sounds wonderful! I wrote about Hari-kuyo this week and put a link to this post. Thank you for the inspiration.


I really appreciate your lovely comments, ideas and opinions, they make my day. Thank you for visiting Piece'n'Peace,
hugs, Lis x