Monday 8 February 2010

Hari-kuyou - The Needles' Prayse - Festival of Broken Needles, 8 February 2010

Hari-kuyou is a Japanese religious practice which is said to have started in the Edo era (early 17th century). The ceremony is held on either February 8 or December 18, depending on the region. In Hari-kuyou, the needleworkers take their old or broken needles to the Shinto shrine. After a ritual, the needles are stuck into tofu or konnyaku (jelly-like substance made from konnyaku potato). Sticking the needles into something soft is a way of showing appreciation to the needles which have been stuck through har substances. The needleworkers also pray for improvement in their needlework skills.
In Japan, needles became commonly used in the 14th century. At this time, needles were precious and used with especial care, which probably led to the idea of doing "kuyou" for the needles, a religious ceremony to calm the spirit and put them to rest". Although it is originally a religious practice, in present days, it is widely known as a ceremony for needleworkers to show appreciation for the needles and pray for improvement in needlework skills. These days, many kimono seamsters and needlework schools still go to the shrine to attend the Hari-kuyou ceremony. Some needleworkers show appreciation by simply not doing any needlework on that day, thereby giving their needles a holiday.

By Saho Nogi


  1. Wow! You never cease to amaze me with the knowledge that you share! Thanks!

  2. If you have seen the stitching at the Tokyo Quilt Show you would understand why the needles need a rest.


  3. What a beautiful show appreciation for the needle that allows up to create wonderful beauty.
    I am grateful that this was posted.
    In appreciation,

  4. What happens to the broken needles in their soft cushions after the ceremonies ?

  5. In some areas they wrap needles in a sheet of paper, and let them go in rivers or sea. But I am afraid, I couldn't find what will happen to the needles after the ceremony in other areas.