Misao Jo and the beginnings of SAORI

“SAORI” – The Beginning

Portrait of Misao Jo
Misao Jo

When Misao Jo was 57 years old, she built a loom and started weaving as a hobby. One day, she wove an “Obi” (a belt for Japanese Kimono), and found a warp thread was missing. But she thought it was making a good effect, and she was very pleased to find that a nice pattern had been formed by accident. She showed the “Obi” to a person who was running a weaving factory in her neighbourhood because she wanted to know how other people would value her weaving. The man told her that her “Obi” was “flawed” and it would be worthless as a commercial product because one warp thread was missing. Misao realised that a commercial factory is only eager to produce a “flawless”cloth, but as she said, “I have a brain and emotion. I’m a human being. I will weave an obi that is full of humanity”. So she began intentionally to weave with many “flaws”.

Finally, she took her work to the owner of a fashionable kimono shop. To her surprise and delight, he bought all the work she showed him, sold it quickly, and asked for more.

She wove many items and gave them to her friends who soon became very eager to learn how to weave for themselves. Through this teaching experience she became convinced that everyone had the power of creativity, and if given the chance, anyone could bring out their hidden ability and demonstrate it in their works. She just taught her students the basic techniques of using a loom, and helped them remove their stereotypical preconceptions of weaving. Once the students mastered the basic technique, she would just let them weave what they liked. She would give them some suggestions and see how they would react but would never make further interventions. This gave the weavers the opportunity to discover their own path and their true selves.

“All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color.  Because of this difference, “all are good”.  Because everything has the same life, life cannot be measured by a yardstick.  It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates the tapestry of life.”
Misao Jo, Founder of SAORI

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