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This is how it all started...
“SAORI” - its beginning

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 an accident. She showed the “Obi” to a person who was running a weaving factory in her neighborhood 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 realized that a commercial factory is only eager to produce a “flawless”cloth, but she would be able to achieve a hand woven quality through intentionally making a “flawed” cloth.

Then she began to weave an “Obi” with many “flaws”. It was easy. She just skipped some blades of the reed when warping her loom. In doing so, she found that the absence of warp threads in irregular intervals and varied thickness could make more interesting effects. She finally finished an “Obi”, and it was highly praised by an owner of an “Obi” shop in "Shinsaibashi Street" (an expensive shopping street in Osaka, Japan).

Misao thought the aesthetic quality that made the “Obi” valuable must have derived from something hidden inside herself. And it must have been possible because she broke away from the conventional ways of thinking. She thought that weaving could be a way of self-expression if she could stay faithful to her true self when she weaves, without imitating "flawless" cloth produced by commercial factories.

She built a new loom with her third son, Kenzo, to put her idea into practice. She wove many items and gave them to her friends who were very grateful for it, and her friends soon became very eager to learn how to weave. Misao named her weaving method “SAORI” and started her career as a weaving teacher.
“SAORI”- a process to uncover hidden power of creativity

She started teaching with 5 students. In her first lesson, she showed them how to warp the loom, and assisted them in each step of preparation. Then she told them to weave as they liked and advised that they should try not to weave a cloth that looked machine-made. To her surprise, soon the students started to weave beautiful works. The talents hidden inside them were uncovered through weaving.

Through this experience she was convinced that anyone had a power of creativity, and if given the chance, anyone could bring out their hidden ability and demonstrate it in their works. The conventional way of teaching practiced in traditional lessons such as “Ikebana” (flower arrangement) or doll making had forced the students to follow the teacher’s instructions or copy a sample. This was what had prevented the people from expressing individuality and discovering their abilities hidden inside.

So she decided to follow the following process. She would just teach her students the basic techniques of using a loom, and helped them remove their stereotypical preconceptions of weaving. But 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 intervention. This gave the weavers an opportunity to discover their true selves, and eventually gave a pleasure to both weavers and herself..
SAORI is a free-style hand weaving with no rules and restrictions. SAORI is an art form in which we express our true selves in weaving. There is no samples to follow, and there is no mistakes in weaving. Weavers just weave what they want to with a complete freedom and creativity.

To weave fleely is not easy sometimes. We live in a world with many kinds of rules and restrictions. We are unconsciously affected by those rules and restrictions, and it often can be very difficult for us to get rid of our fixed notions and to express our hidden creativity in weaving.

In SAORI, we have four slogans, and one of them is "Consider the differences between machines and people". We try not to weave a cloth which looks like a machine-made cloth, which values regularty of patterns and cleaness of the cloth. In SAORI, we try to do the oposite of the machine-made cloth. No two weavers are alike, and it is very natural that every single cloth freely woven by people with different personalities is beautiful in a different way. The irregular selvage and accidental skip of thread add the unprogrammed beauty to the SAORI cloths; and we admire this irregularity as "the beauty with lack of intentions" created by our natural creativity.

In SAORI, we do not weave only a cloth. We weave our true self.

Thanks to its unique philosophy of freedom and creativity, the SAORI has been welcomed in more than 40 countries in passed 40 years. There are many facilities, institutions and schools outside Japan, which introduce SAORI Weaving Program as a part of their activities. There are more than 10 official SAORI Weaving studios outside Japan where the specially trained instructors teach SAORI Weaving to the people in their community who are seeking for the opportunities to express themselves in weaving.

Visit our global website in English (http://www.saoriglobal.com) to find more about the philosophy and history of SAORI Weaving. The SAORI Weaving studio directory outside Japan is also available on the global website. Find a studio in your region, and try and experience the true freedom and creativity in the SAORI Weaving.

A book about SAORI Weaving is available in English.

SAORI, Self-Innovation through Free Weaving
by Misao Jo & Kenzo Jo

History and philosophy of SAORI, techniques of warping and weaving, instructions and patterns on how to make SAORI clothes with many beautiful photos....

Order a copy from one of the official SAORI Weaving Studios in your country, or directly from SAORINOMORI if you cannot find a studio in your country.
Misao Jo, the founder of SAORI Weaving

Misao Jo, 1913–2018
"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."

She was commended by Japanese government twice for her public contribution made through SAORI hand weaving program. In 1990, she was honored by the Minister of Health and Welfare, and in 1992 again by the Prime Minister of Japan.

On January 10, 2018, she took her last breath peacefully. We created a special webpage as a tribute to her.

On March 24 2018, we had an event for Misao Jo in Izumi City, Osaka. We created a webpage to share the memories from the event.

April, 2011 at Saorinomori on her 98th birthday

Misao Jo weaving at Saorinomori with a TV crue and photographer visiting for an interview.

Misao Jo weaves everyday

She just sits in front of her loom
and weaves quietly.

Misao once finished a cloth as long as 17 meters.

A photo from the "Misao Jo Exhibition"
in 2008.

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