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Mottainai—In Japanese, an expression of regret over waste rooted in the intrinsic dignity and sacredness of material entities.

A Garment Cared For

My father's tattered and patched shirt, sashiko mending stitch, salvaged scrap fabric, embroidery floss 


There is a Japanese idiom, “Ten ni tsuba suru koui,” which means that to be wasteful is tantamount to spitting at heaven, to spitting at the gods. In Shinto, Japan’s oldest religion, there is a spirit associated with every small piece of the natural world. Every mountain, river, and forest has a spirit, and must be respected in exchange for the life it gives. Because of this, every object is a gift from the gods, a gift that must not be shown the disrespect of being wasted.

Ours is a problem of alienation—common to emigrants, displaced from their homelands, and to urbanites, displaced from their ancient life ways.

—excerpts from Mottainai: A Dense Intervention of Love

Boroi Shatsu 2
Boroi Shatsu 2 (inside-out)
Boroi Shatsu 3 (detail)
Boroi Shatsu 3 (detail)
Obāsan no Nagai Hanten
Boroi Ji-Pan 1 (detail)
Boroi Ji-Pan 1 (detail)
Boroi Kutsu-Shita
Boroi Kutsu-Shita (detail)
Boroi Shatsu 4 (detail)
Boroi Suni-ka-
Boroi Suni-ka- (detail)
Boroi Shatsu 5
Boroi Ranningu Jaketto
Boroi Ranningu Pantsu

"Future Sustainability is best modeled with the help of nostalgia."

—Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

From handling and usage, the clothes we wear become imprinted with the events of our lives. If we wear them enough, they fade into recorded ephemera. Through mending, we revalue our memories and remember the sanctity of everyday objects. 

See compiled research in Mottainai: A Dense Intervention of Love

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