Hari-Kuyo – The Ceremony of Broken Needles

Interesting look at the passing of our tools.

See How We Sew

In Japan, the Hari-Kuyo ceremony is held throughout Japan annually on the 8th of February. This 400-year-old tradition is held at Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples as a celebration of the small tools used by seamstresses, embroiderers, and housewives over the previous year.

It is believed that these inanimate objects have souls and by using them, some of their pain is released. Broken or worn needles, pins, and some small scissors are brought to the ceremony and thanked for their good service in creating sashiko, kimonos, or even for daily mending. Then they are gently laid to rest in a soft tofu cake.


Tofu is symbolic in this instance for rest and tenderness; a peaceful place for the tools retirement. In observance of the ceremony, no sewing is to take place on this day, as this gives time for  reflection and time to pray that sewing skills improve the following…

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4 thoughts on “Hari-Kuyo – The Ceremony of Broken Needles

  1. Thread crazy

    Melanie, what an interesting insight into their tradition of laying their “tools” to rest. Are we to assume the tofu is buried? Just wondering. Interest post and thanks for sharing. I usually thread my old used/broken needles through a layer of muslin/batting that I keep on my sewing table. Maybe I need to bury them in tofu…

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      I don’t know what happens with the tofu. When I read the post (you know I re-blogged it) I just thought that was fascinating.

      I drop all my sharps in an old yogurt cup. Some day it will be full, I’ll duct tape it safely shut, and put it is the trash. But I’ve been using the same one for several years and it’s only about half full!!!

  2. Neame

    I imagine there was a time when needles were hard to make and hard to come by. Respect for the tool respects the maker. Illuminating.


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