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Hari-Kuyo: The Japanese Memorial Service for Broken Needles

(Photo: 豊瀬源一)

Scholar Nicholas S. Anderson writes that in Japanese folklore, household objects become ensouled upon reaching the age of 100. The older a tool is, the more spirit is endowed within it. One result of this belief is an annual funerary ritual called Hari-Kuyo. On February 8 of every year, Japanese women gather at temples and place their broken or worn-out needles into tofu

At the end of the New Year’s festivities, just as the hard work of the coming year is to begin once more, women gather at Buddhist temples with their worn-out pins and needles to offer them up in large blocks of tofu or jelly, adorned with ribbons and accompanied by the prayer chants of the temple monks. They show their gratitude and reverence for the collaborative work these things put into the labour performed by the human women. It is not only a utilitarian bond, but a personal and affective one, as well, a sympathy sutured by confidence and secrecy, as many women put their painful thoughts and feelings into the tools and entrust them to the gods.

-via The Presurfer

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