Monday, 8 February 2010
The Festival of Broken Needles, harikuyo, has taken place in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples all over Japan on February 8th for hundreds of years. While memorial services are more usually held for the spirits of the dead, there is an old Shinto belief that inanimate objects, as well as living beings, have a soul and spirit. The animists believe that to simply discard a tool that has served you well is disrespectful would anger the object's soul. Tailors, embroiderers and other needleworkers gather their worn and broken needles from the previous year and take them to the temple. Prayers of respect and thanks giving are offered. The needles are pushed into slabs of tofu or other soft substances to keep them safe and to prevent their sharp points doing any harm before they are taken to their final resting place. By showing respect and offering prayers it is hoped that the power and energy of the needle will pass to the owner and make them a better stitcher. Note: while researching this article, I found a lot of conflicting information. For example, while February 8th was the date most frequently given for the festival, December 8th and other dates were also suggested. This may be because the festival is celebrated on different dates at various shrines. Also, Harikuyo was given as the name of the shrine as well as the name of the fesival. If you feel that any of the information given here is incorrect or your have any further information about the Festival of Broken Needles, please leave a comment or email us.