Mihoko Wakabayashi

About the Artist-Instructor

I’ve loved sewing and creating clothes since I was a teen and recently became fascinated by weaving my own textiles. But my hands are quite damaged from scleroderma. So it’s been a great joy to discover Mihoko and Saori weaving. The looms are easy to use, and Mihoko has come up with many creative ways to help me work around my hand’s limitations. The weaving is a wonderful meditation and creative outlet, and Mihoko is a kind and gifted teacher. What a great combination!   – E.H.

Mihoko Wakabayashi is the owner of SAORI Worcester who had established the first SAORI studio in US and has been teaching SAORI Weaving since 2000. Her background is an alternative education. She studied the philosophy of one of the oldest model of alternative schools “Summerhill”, visited several alternative schools in US, attended several conferences of National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools. She worked for “Tokyo Shure” which is one of pioneer alternative educational institutes in Japan. While she was teaching weaving to kids at Tokyo Shure (she taught English and music as well), she encountered a SAORI book. She realized the philosophy of SAORI matched the education she believed in. She had started trying SAORI on her own after her marriage in MI in 1994. She wrote a letter to Misao Jo, the founder of SAORI how much she loved the philosophy, and she received a response from Misao with her handwriting. When she moved to Kyoto, Japan in 1996 with her husband and son, she immediately started to take SAORI classes. She gradually decided to take it seriously since she made a plan with her husband to move back to US in 2000. After her first solo exhibition in Kyoto studio to celebrate her certification of SAORI Leaders’ Committee process, she moved to Worcester, MA and began to promote SAORI in the local area.

Mihoko with SAORI founder Misao Jo (right) in 2013


Since then she has been teaching hundreds of people both in the studio and off the studio. Her passion for education has made her teaching special. She guides individuals with  “not to teach, but develop” way based on SAORI philosophy. Also, she and her husband has been gotten involved in community movements. Building an inclusive community was one of their mission. That’s why “the SAORI Bridges of Elm Park” project with a scholarship for local school children in 2010 was born. That was a significant achievement for the business.

She has also been conducting a SAORI Japan tour since 2005 every other year and interweaving Japanese culture and SAORI communities beyond nationalities and legions.

After the divorce Mihoko maintains her business solely. She has completed another “SAORI Bridge Project” in 2021, developed a program “Seed to Fashion”, and conducted “Slow Fashion Lab” in 2023 which are all funded by Worcester Arts Council. 

Currently she is looking for a long-term commitment intern or work exchange students.

You can see her artwork at www.mihokotextiles.com.

She posts what is going on the studio at our Facebook page  and the Instagram. If you would like to connect SAORI Weavers online, like SAORI Worcester page, join Saori Weaving group page on Facebook ,  follow SAORI Worcester on Instagram, or / and contact us for subscribing the e-newsletter.