Kyoto Adventure: Japanese embroidery

Tuesday there were lots of people talking about the Japanese Festival of Needles (on stitchin fingers). So I thought I’d write about my experience with Japanese embroidery when I visited Kyoto. A few blocks from where we were staying, there was a tiny embroidery shop with two small rooms (it was hard to spot, because it only had a single small sign in the window). My aunt is Japanese, so she translated for us. The shop owner is the lady in the pictures in this post, and embroidery runs in her family. Her brother is a National Living Treasure of Japan in honor of his embroidery work. We saw her in-progress work (and the work of a student there for a private lesson), and both pieces were incredibly beautiful and perfect silk work. Then she showed us a commissioned project worked in black lacquer thread. She is an incredibly friendly, kind woman and was delighted to see people taking an interest in embroidery. In fact, she gave my mother as a gift two traditional Japanese needles and a pincushion. Apparently, the big needle is used like a laying tool, to make sure your satin stitches lay smoothly. She gave us a demonstration and some tips. My mother bought the Japanese silk in the photo in this post (the shop owner says most silks in Japan are Chinese but these are genuinely Japanese). I’m afraid I have no photos from the shop, but I have a pamphlet she gave us, and the photos here are her work.

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14 Responses to Kyoto Adventure: Japanese embroidery

  1. coral-seas says:

    I found this post very interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience and for showing the pictures. I would have loved to see the embroidery with the black lacqure thread. I have some but am not sure what to do with it!

  2. Elmsley Rose says:

    Wow! I bet there’s a few that read this that would have loved to have had this experience. Maybe you could set up tours! (joke)

    Some very special needles and thread for a special project 🙂

  3. Keri says:

    So beautiful! I love the one that looks like a sampler, with all the purples. I’ll have to look more into Japanese embroidery. So precise and gorgeous! Those silks look beautiful.

  4. What an adventure! Beautifully written. Thank you so much for the fabulous pictures.

  5. Christine says:

    Thank you for sharing this info, it is fascinating to me. I have studied Japanese Embroidery in the United States for 4 years. There is center in Japan, Kurenai-Kai, and also in Atlanta ( There are certified teachers scattered over the US, and in a few other countries. You’re welcome to look at the work I’ve completed via facebook. I’ve tried to remain as faithful to the original designs/techniques/colors as I can –,

  6. Anita says:

    Wow!Thank you so much for sharing this info Hannah.

  7. Colleen says:

    Hannah I’ve just come across your story on the embroidery shop in Kyoto. I am traveling to Japan this year and will be staying in Kyoto. Thank you for sharing I will search for this shop.

  8. Cerise says:

    Hi Hannah! I’m in Kyoto right now and looking for a good shop for embroidery thread I found your article. That shop seems amazing do you know if it still exist? And did you find the adress. Thanks. Your embroideries are very cool.

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