mottainai – Julie Maclean

I heard a radio program last year in which a writer described the 400 year old Japanese  Festival of Broken Needles or Hari-Kuyo, which I found evocative.

On February 8th women gather at Shinto shrines, or Buddhist temples, and begin by thanking their needles and pins for their faithful service. Next they place them in jelly or tofu  – a soft bed – and lay them to rest. The other idea that is acknowledged on the day is that the needles have taken on some of the sorrows and difficulties of the women – they’re carrying or sharing the burden of the women’s emotional troubles.

The final aspect of Hari-Kuyo is the idea of valuing the small things. The Japanese call it mottainai. It’s a Buddhist word, and is connected to the Shinto belief that objects have soulsIn general, mottainai is about not being wasteful.


(Image: photo by Fleur Treurniet)