SAORI weaving – an Introduction

SAORI weaving history

Misao Jo in 1969

SAORI weaving is a movement and integrated practice of creative and personal realisation founded in 1969 by Misao Jo and still continued by her family in Osaka, Japan. It is rooted in the activity of free-flowing, uninhibited hand weaving and the core philosophy that we are all born with unique sensibilities and the power to create. SAORI is not only a practice of connecting deeply with one’s own creative and authentic self, but it is also a practice of connecting deeply with others. By discovering and nurturing our individuality yet shared humanity and ability to express ourselves, we cultivate awareness and compassion within ourselves and our global community.

When she began weaving at the age of 57, Misao Jo originally used the term SAORI to identify her own weaving, sao being a contraction of her name and ori meaning ‘weaving’ in Japanese. But later as she deepened her own practice of weaving and realized that it was much more than a personal hobby and had a profound capacity to impact the lives of other individuals, she extended the significance of the name SAORI beyond herself and connected it to the Japanese word sai ( 差異 ), which means ‘difference.’ There are many words that can mean ‘difference,’ but this word specifically does not mean difference between objects in comparison, but rather difference amongst objects, each with their own dignity.

Life is where we come in order to discover our true selves.

— Misao Jo
SAORI texture

As she experienced personally and the experiences of countless others further illustrated, Misao found that the most accessible and impactful way for all individuals to awaken their hidden powers of creativity and cultivate their authentic selves was through a sustained practice of hand weaving. Not just any kind of hand weaving, but remarkably uncomplicated hand weaving that encourages a natural state of mindfulness and unrestrained possibilities to the question, what if? And so, Misao and her family worked together to build a tool as revolutionary and human centered as the mindset it was designed to facilitate: the SAORI loom.

Plain weaving appeals to new weavers due to its simplicity and to long-time weavers due to its sophistication.

SAORI weaver

In SAORI, practice does not make perfect— or imperfect. Practicing SAORI is a continuous journey of being present to and learning deeply about who we are, genuinely and free from judgments and expectations that naturally develop from within ourselves and from our external world. By discovering and nurturing our individuality, we cultivate awareness and compassion within ourselves but also towards others. Through weaving, making and wearing our own one-of-a-kind clothes, and generously sharing together, we realise our uniqueness yet collective humanity and ability to express ourselves. We connect to the boundless, creative potential that lives within each and every human being and unites our global community.

Misao wove almost every day from the time she first learned at age 57 until she was 98. She devoted herself to helping others discover their authentic, creative selves and was commended by the Japanese government twice for her contribution to the public through SAORI, once in 1990 by the Minister of Health and Welfare and again in 1992 by the Prime Minister of Japan. In 2018, Misao passed away peacefully at the age of 104, but her spirit and legacy live on through her family and thousands of individuals and communities practicing SAORI all around the world.

Four slogans of SAORI

Four slogans of SAORI

The following slogans represent the core philosophy of SAORI. They guide those practicing SAORI not only while weaving but also in the way they conduct their lives as a whole.

  1. Consider the differences between a machine and human being.
  2. Be bold and adventurous.
  3. Look out through eyes that shine.
  4. Inspire one another, and everyone in the community.