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 one warp thread was missing accidentally. But she thought this missing warp 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 factory master 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 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. Learn more at SAORI GLOBAL.
All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color. Because of this difference, all are good.
Because everything as 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
SAORI is now practiced across Japan, other countries in Asia, Middle East, North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa at nearly one thousand institutions including special education schools, sheltered workshops, high schools, adult education centers, and rehabilitation centers for people with disabilities. Misao Jo has been commended by the 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 of Japan, and in 1992 again by the Prime Minister of Japan.