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    ‘Kogin-zashi’ adds traditional touch to daily life

    Kenji Iwaasa

    ANN/ THE JAPAN NEWS – Kogin-zashi embroidery is traditional needlework originally from the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture.

    Popular for its stylish designs which feature beautiful diamond patterns, it often appears as part of daily-use items and interior design.

    This style of embroidery dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867), when women from farming families in the region stitched white thread into coarse hemp farming clothes to reinforce them and hold in warmth. Various geometric patterns have been created over the years.

    “The appeal of the embroidery lies in the intricacy and comforting aura of handwork, and the beautiful patterns that can be incorporated into modern life,” said a Kogin-zashi artist from Aomori Prefecture Iemasa Yamahata. Kogin-zashi, which is also called Koginsashi , drew attention during the mingei folkcraft movement in the early Showa era (1926-1989), which placed value on ordinary craftspeople making everyday tools.

    This embroidery has again been attracting attention in recent years for its stylish designs and functional beauty. An increasing number of stores sell handmade Kogin-zashi products, and more and more people are enjoying the embroidery as a fun handicraft with beautiful patterns.

    Yamahata was impressed by a Kogin-zashi exhibition while he was a high school student in the Tsugaru region. After graduating from design school, he studied Kogin-zashi while coming up with various ways to use the embroidery. He worked together with a company to develop daily items with modern designs incorporating Kogin-zashi . He also uses Kogin-zashi in the designs of posters and other things, as well as in hotel interiors.

    “The patterns are all simple, so they can be easily worked into designs and used in interiors,” Yamahata said.

    He’s created or collected various Kogin-zashi products such as a wallet, a place mat, a business card holder and a small object that looks like an apple. All these items feature lovely patterns.

    Small articles decorated with Kogin-zashi have a warm feel. PHOTO: THE JAPAN NEWS
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