Funeral For A Pin

NeedlesTofu

In Japan, February 8th is the day that old and broken needles are laid to rest. Anyone whose work involves sewing stuff together gathers at Awashima Shrine in Asakusa for a requiem service to thank their old needles and pins for good and faithful service.

During the harikuyo memorial service, seamstresses, tailors, shoemakers, and milliners approach a giant block of tofu and push one of their old needles into it, giving their trusty tools a soft spot to rest in the afterlife. The rest of the year’s broken pins and needles are collected in bins at the entrance to the shrine, then all of them are poured by the priests into a sort of Needle Crypt, to join the rusting bones of the Worthy Needles Who Have Gone Before.

NeedlesCollecting

Bringing the year’s broken and bent needles to the shrine for honorable burial.

A fraction of the good and faithful pins collected at the harikuyo memorial,

A fraction of the good and faithful pins collected at the harikuyo memorial, whose spirits will soon be speeded on their way to Needle Heaven.

If you happen to be in Tokyo on February 8th and want to see the Needle Memorial (or just want to visit a fantastic traditional neighborhood and see a gorgeous shrine with a lovely garden), directions & a map are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had. The Awashima Shrine is to the left of the main Senso-ji temple building at the end of the Nakamise-dori souvenir shop street. Walk through the beautiful garden with the koi pond next to the main Senso-ji temple building and you’ll see Awashima straight ahead.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, now out for the first time in paperback

More Nightshade book goodness here, in case you think you might want to, you know, read it or something

A young woman is found dead in an abandoned car, with a pair of strangers old enough to be her parents. Their suicide note apologizes for a disaster that hasn’t yet happened. And someone is stalking the…read more

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