Yoko's Furusato: Story of a Handmade Gift in Difficult Times

August 01, 2020 Yoko Lewis

Handmade Quilted Gift Purse: Nursery Children, front

Above: Purse Front View:
Day Care Nursery, Children
(More pictures below)

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We feel that the Japanese word "furusato" doesn't translate very well to English, as furusato connotes much more than just one's 'hometown'. As we detail elsewhere on our site, YokoDana KImono's owner's furusato (home town) is in Kumamoto prefecture, Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan. From time to time we like to blog about things from home, usually topics that center around themes of our website (cultural and historical information, kimonos, traditional Japanese textiles, creative Japanese textile arts, and crafts). 

But this blog post is a bit different: We recently got these pictures (Below) from YokoDana Kimono's owner's sister, Fumi Sakanashi, and while we ostensibly want to share (showcase) Fumi's brilliant quilting handiwork (we're allowed to brag about family :}  ), there is a story behind this bag which adds some context that we felt many of our site visitors -- as creative types -- might appreciate.

2018 to 2020 has been the most challenging time for us in Kumamoto. First  came a savage earthquake in our area which took a long time to recover from.  Then we lost a younger brother tragically in the spring of 2019 and later that summer we had two other tragic deaths of immediate family members. Then 2020 brought us COVID19 Pandemic which shut down most everything this spring, followed by the most recent  100-year flood in Kyushu.

Needless to say -- all of this has made for unspeakably trying times for our family there in Kumamoto.  It was during all these events that this bag  was made by owner's sister Fumi. It was made as a gift of appreciation for Fumi's grandchildren's nursery school teacher, an elderly lady well into her 70's.

During the COVID19 pandemic this year we have often been told by many of our customers that using our beautiful old Japanese fabrics to make things during lockdown has been therapeutic for them, an activity to help them cope with the stress and seemingly daily stream of bad news.

Furthermore, it occurred to us that while the maker benefits from the act of creating with their own two hands, the story of this purse-making shows us how one's handcraft can also be an inspirational gift to someone we love and care about. So, we comfort not only ourselves in the creation, but what we have made becomes a solace for others as well in their receiving of the finished object.  The particulars of this story follow the pictures.

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Handmade Quilted Gift Purse: side2Sakanashi Children

Above: Back View
Fumi Sakanashi's Grandchildren

Above: Front View: Day Care Nursery,end of bag1

Above:  End View 
Fumi's Granddaughter Jumping Rope

Above: Front View: Day Care Nursery, end2

Above: Other End View
Fumi's Grandson on Swing

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Story of a Handmade Gift in Difficult Times

Fumi's grandchildren grew quite fond of an elderly lady teacher at their day-care. She was well into her 70's and still working as a teacher. It is very uncommon in Japan for people of her age to continue full-time teaching. She was beloved by the children and families. Then, this past spring, when Fumi's granddaughter moved to another school district, still the elderly lady traveled some distance to see Fumi and ask after the granddaughter. This teacher's dedication and love of her students so moved Fumi -- even in the thick of everything just described going on -- that she began making the quilted purse as a gift for the teacher.

Fumi recently finished the bag. The motifs of the bag are as follows:

  • On one long side: All the children of the nursery lined up.
  • On the other long side: Fumi's 2 grandchildren are portrayed
  • On one end: Fumi's granddaughter jumping rope.
  • On the other end: Fumi's grandson on a swing.

     Bag measures: 35 cm (13.78") X 23 cm (9.06") X 12 cm (4.72") and is made of dyed cotton fabric.

    Yoko Lewis

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