Transitory stitching

I bought myself a kimono jacket from a street vendor inside the Fushimi-Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto. We had seen the stand after we first entered the shrine and thought we would visit it on our way back but were so lost in the miles and miles of orange Tori gates and shrines guarded by wolves that twisted and turned up and down the mountain, that we were almost surprised we bumped into it again, hours later, at what we thought was another exit.

I carefully examined the kimono jacket yesterday and noticed that there were carefully sewn protective stitches, keeping folds and pieces in place, like a finely tailored suit equipped for a long journey. I have seen such threading before. Sometimes a pocket on a new pair of pants will be sewn together or a lapel on a jacket. I seem to remember, when I was very young, removing the stitching from a very pleated skirt. But what struck me was that this stitching was not haphazard, but patterned, visually deliberate, lovely in its own right. Some seamstress or tailor somewhere, put these ephemeral “safety” stitches in, knowing full well they would be removed before wearing. This transitory stitching told me that this piece of clothing was made with great deal of care and skilled craftsmanship.

For the Japanese, even the simplest and most practical tasks have an aesthetic and an artistry. I need to fold my socks with more attention and do the dishes with much more ceremony.

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5 Responses to Transitory stitching

  1. So many subtle, loving details that other cultures seems to have held on to while ours continues to barrel along leaving most niceties behind. Every now and then you run across someone in our culture who really means “Thank You” or “Its my pleasure” but rarely. Most often we get a “No problem.” I should hope not.

  2. Michael, for every door slammed in my face, (while I am pushing a stroller) there is always another held open. I keep hoping the number of held doors will at least equal the number slammed in my face! And yes, if we could only pay attention to the details, the small things, the things that keep us centered and connected. I can’t wait to see the full kimono, after such care in the travel stitches.

  3. Jerome Bloom says:






  4. Mrs. Chili says:

    I read, a long time ago, Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness, and ever since have been engaged in a practice to be where I am, doing what I’m doing, with attention and care. I can’t claim to have this practice down pat yet – it’s an evolving thing – but I’ve never peeled an orange since without being wholly engrossed in the activity (though, in the book, the fruit in question was a tangerine…).

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