Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hari-Kuyo - Festival of Broken Needles

A few weeks ago I bent a needle while I was embroidering and I posted a photo of it on Instagram (as you do...) and Jacob of Modern Folk Embroidery then pointed me towards Hari-Kuyo, the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles. I decided to find out a little bit more about this festival.

Hari Kuyo in Awashima Photo by 豊瀬源
On the 8th of February (or 8th of December in some places) needleworkers in Japan say goodbye and give thanks to their broken needles and bent pins in a formal ceremony. This tradition started 400 years ago and nowadays usually the service is held at a shrine or a Buddhist temple. The no-longer useful needles and pins are stuck in something soft, like tofu or a jelly like substance, giving them a comfortable place to rest. On this day needleworkers, embroiderers and seamstresses like kimono makers, also pray for further development of their skills. This Japanese Needle/Sewing supplies manufacturer even gives it's customers the opportunity to return their no longer useful needles to them to be included in the company's Needle Memorial Service! This all may seem odd but according to Shinto beliefs, all beings and objects have a spirit and a soul, including needles. The are to be treated with reverence.

Read more about the Hari-Kuyo tradition here and here. And find more photos here.


  1. I have a box of old needles, how lovely to hear there is a festival for them.

  2. Oh, that's lovely! I have a little Hedgehog pin cushion that I put all my old, broken and bent needles in ~ thus the spines for it! It's darling!

  3. This is such a beautiful idea! I'm going to have to keep this in mind the next time swear words start bubbling to the surface when a needle breaks on my sewing machine.

  4. I think you meant 'reverence' as opposed to 'reference' in the last line.


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