Kogin Zashi Technique

Modern kogin zashi motifs. Modern kogin zashi motifs.

The kogin zashi technique is a form of darned embroidery from Japan. Kogin literally means ‘small cloth’ and zashi means ‘stitches.’ Kogin zashi is often classed as one of the sashiko forms, which was developed by the farmers of the Tsugaru district in the northern part of the Honshu Island, Japan. The patterns used for kogin zashi are stitched only on the upper area of kogin zashi clothes, using small, horizontal running stitches.

The design is created by counting the number of warp threads. The embroidery thread goes over an odd number of warps. The needle that is used tends to be long enough to stitch through one block pattern, which is about 6 cm long. A thimble is normally used, which is put on the inside bottom of the middle finger and is called sara-tegawa (‘hand skin dish’). Because of the tension of the ground material, the block patterns of lozenges are longer in a vertical direction.

Occasionally, kogin is stitched by counting an even number of warps, especially in the bottom row of the embroidery. And in the same way, in the eastern part of the Aomori prefecture, there is nanbu hishizashi, whereby most of the stitches are also done by counting even numbers. Those patterns tend to be wider horizontally.

The basic block design repertoire of kogin zashi consists of about forty patterns, and with various combinations this repertoire may increase to several hundreds. The basic patterns are taken from nature and daily life, such as bamboo, beans, butterflies, cats’ eyes, cows, little flowers, fish scales, horse bits, walnuts, stone steps, etc.


  • HIROSAKI KOGIN INSTITUTE, Co., Ltd (2013). Tsugaru Kogin – Zashi, Technique and Patterns, Tokyo, Seibundo Shinkosha.
  • KIYOKO, Ogikubo (1993). Kogin and Sashiko Stitch, Kyoto, Kyoto Shoin.
  • KITAHARA, Kanako and Hannah Joy SAWADA (2008). An Introduction to Tsugaru Studies, Hirosaki: Hirosaki University Press (in Japanese and English).
  • TANAKA, Chuaburo (2009). Michinoku no Kofu no Sekai (The world of old textiles in northern part of Honshu Island, Japan) ,Tokyo, Kawaide Shobo Shinsya.
  • YOKOSHIMA, Naomichi (1974). Tsugaru Kogin, Tokyo, NHK Press.
  • https://tohoku-standard.jp/en/standard/aomori/koginzashi/ (retrieved 28 March 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 5 July 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 02 October 2016 12:01
More in this category: « Sashiko Kogin »