Nanbu Hishizashi is a style of embroidery that was developed in the Edo Era (17-19th centuries) in the southern area of Aomori. It is one of the three traditional embroidery arts of Aomori.
Cotton was hard to cultivate in the cold climate of northern Japan, so hemp became the major crop that was able to be grown for clothing. The Hishizashi style of embroidery was developed as a way to strengthen and insulate clothes using this hemp and the little amount of cotton available to the people of the area.
In the town of Gonohe, the technique was used for making all manner of clothing, such as pants, children’s traditional socks, and mae-kake (a piece of clothing similar to an apron). The embroidery patterns are stitched in sets of 2/4/6 and there are said to be hundreds of patterns used. The embroidery style uses wool or cotton yarn which is worked in by hand, stitch by stitch. The process results in broad diamond-shaped patterns. The different embroidery styles, patterns that they produce, and colors used are said to represent different aspects of the surrounding nature.