The fascination of boro

It all started when...


...abundance was a word of tales but reality was a struggle. Things were dignified by scarcity. In rural Japan around 200 years ago, cotton was precious. For millennia Japanese garments were made of hemp, and northern Japanese needed their garments to be thickly woven. This made clothes unpractical and often uncomfortable. It also did not do well to retain warmth. As centuries passed, traded goods started to flow into the country and cotton was introduced. To the rural folks this was an exotic and precious luxury. Cotton was brought from southern and western districts such as Osaka, Nagasaki or Fukuoka, where people bought fragments instead of a cloth roll as it was more affordable. Once acquired, it was common for these textiles to be passed down through generations, where they would be patched up and mended to reinforce them for the next user. Some items tell stories of usage spanning more than hundreds of years. The love and care of generations of family members who mended and wore them out again has created an unintended art form which reminds today's artisans of a time only familiar from history books, when things were scarce and frugality was a mark of character - and a virtue.