Sunday, 7 April 2013

hari kuyo or last honours

Via the emporium of curiosities, Oddity Central, I learnt that the Japanese reserve the last day of the Lunar New Year’s celebration with a sweetly touching ceremony that’s a final tattoo for lives of long and dedicated service for pins and other such small and disposable things.

Broken and dulled pins and thrust for a final time into a block of tofu or jelly and them buried with honours—pens, staples. This ritual, in place in one form or another for at least four centuries, is an expression of gratitude for utility, perhaps the idea that all things have or can at least earn a soul, and reflects the Japanese virtue of mottainai, not being wasteful with small things, but attendance is waning some, as many young people have no connection with traditional clothes-making. I have a very soft spot for stuff like this, and won’t relinquish something broken, busted or blighted without a fight and then a silent memorial. Perhaps that’s why I get flea market fever and even a disappointing sale is not really disappointing. The spirit of the ceremony, however, is a universal one, with kimono makers whispering secrets and sorrows to their needles that they could not share with anyone else, and laying their confidants to rest was a cathartic act.