More than 400 years ago, the Festival of Broken Needles (Hari-Kuyo or 'memorial to the needle') came into being in Japan. The event has both Buddhist and Shinto origins since modern-day Buddhism has integrated the animistic aspects of Shinto belief. Buddhism honors all creation, living or inanimate. Animism is the belief that all things have a soul or spirit.
For anyone who talks to their dog or cat or feels the impulse to hug a tree, Animism is not a stretch. But the Japanese combination of Buddhism and Shinto belief goes a step further and considers that even inanimate objects might have a soul or spirit and should be honored. That said, we sewers are very fond of our favorite tools and once a year--this year on February 8--Japanese sewers in Tokyo will gather to honor their broken needles and bent pins.
The first part of the ceremony is solemn as the tiny broken needles and pins are reverently stuck into cakes of bean curd in the courtyards of Buddhist temples. The cakes are later taken away and the pins and needles recycled.
In Kyoto (the ancient capitol of Japan) Huri-Kuyo is celebrated December 8 at various temples such as the Hourin-ji temple pictured here.
Two months later (February 8) Huri-Kuyo is celebrated further east in the district around Tokyo, the modern capitol.
The whole population of the country doesn't celebrate Huri-Kuyo. The event is for those people who use needles and are fond of them and appreciate their own work using these tools.
Professional seamstresses, tailors, designers, kimono sewers, plus hobbyist sewers and crafters gather to dispose of their pointy-headed friends in a short ceremony complete with prayers for their own needlework skills in the year to come.
I think the Festival of Broken Needles is a fine idea. And I'm wondering when we'll add 'dull and nicked rotary cutter blades' to the mix.