FUROSHIKI - Japan's Most Functional Fabric
What is Furoshiki?
Put away the wrapping paper, put away the sticky tape...oh and you won't need scissors either.
That's because your about to learn FUROSHIKI - the eco-friendly, ingenious tradition of wrapping items using a square piece of fabric with a series of folds and knots.
It's kind of like origami - but with fabric.
In the beginning...
Furoshiki originated in Japan around 710 B.C. during the Nara period. During this time, cloth that an object was wrapped in was referred to as tsutsumi, meaning “package” or “present.” It was primarily used to wrap important goods and treasures found in Japanese temples.
But it wasn't until the Muromachi period (1136 to 1573) when the name furoshiki was applied.
It all started in a bathhouse around 600 years ago when a lord by the name of Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, invited high ranking lords from the Kyoto area to join him as his bathhouse.
In an effort to avoid kimonos being mixed up between his esteemed visitors, Ashikaga's guests began to pack their belongings in furoshiki cloth decorated with their family crest, and, this is how furoshiki came to be.
What is Furoshiki used for?
Nowadays, Furoshiki is so versatile that it can be used as an every day bag or even to dress up an ordinary looking tissue box. Best of all, the Furoshiki is durable, re-usable and eco-friendly! Once you have the furoshiki technique down pat you can use it for the following:
- Wrapping a lunch box, like a bento box and protecting them from spilling open
- Wrapping gifts
- Wrapping wine bottles
- Wrapping ceramic or fragile goods
- Carrying your matcha and matcha utensils
- Wall art.
- Eco-friendly plastic free shopping bag
- A protective face mask
You are only really limited by your own creativity!
Visit our How to Furoshiki video page to learn how to Furoshiki using different techniques.
A guide to buying Furoshiki
There are several features to consider when buying furoshiki.
Ultimately, you can just about use any piece of square fabric to wrap a gift, however, the beauty and most inspiring presentations are the genuine pieces from Japan.
Here's a list of features to look for when buying furoshiki.
Furoshiki is predominately sold as a square piece, however, you can find rectangle shapes as well. The main Furoshiki sizes are:
S (48 - 50cm) - Usage: Books, bento box, lunch box, tissue box, face mask
M (68 x 70cm) - Usage: Wine bottles, gift box
L (90 - 120cm) - Usage: Wall art, clutch bag, shoulder bag
Silk is for top-end items. They make great shawls, and wall art because of their lustrous colour and comforting texture. They’re also perfect as a gift wrapping cloth for a very expensive gift, perhaps for a unique occasion.
Japanese silk is often silk crepe, so it feels a little rougher to the touch than smooth untextured silk.
Cotton is the most versatile of all the materials. Japanese cotton is of very high quality and soft to the touch, meaning that cotton furoshiki can be used as wrapping, bags shawls, art, or any other number of uses. In addition, they are much easier to clean than silk, and will last longer. And of course, cotton is much more affordable than silk.
Rayon is for those who absolutely must have the texture of silk, but on a tighter budget. Slightly more durable than silk, rayon still does not take too kindly to water, so its best to use for gift wrapping.
Polyester is ideal for gift wrapping when you don’t want the wrapping to cost more than the gift. Easy to wash, polyester also has the advantage that it can carry very bright and bold colours. Polyester is also useful for a Furoshiki bag as it’s water-resistant and easy to clean.
Prints and Patterns
In Japan, Furoshiki wrapping chosen to wrap a gift can be seasonal. The styling chosen to use as a gift for everyday purpose is aligned to the season. For instance, during the spring season a furoshiki adorned with cherry blossom print would be fitting.
Typically the motifs printed on the fabric are tributes to artists from another generation or inspiration from nature and animals.
UKYIO E Furoshiki Prints: Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes;
KATA KATA Furoshiki Prints: KATA KATA is the work of two textile designers Takeshi Matsunaga and Chie Takai, who use a Japanese traditional dyeing technique called Katazome to create their textile products. This technique uses glue paste applied through a stencil to resist inks.
How to Furoshiki
How to furoshiki wrap a gift.
Visit our - How to Furoshiki page to see many more Furoshiki techniques.
Using decorative, elegant cloth as a means to carry items and wrap gifts has been a part of Japanese art and culture since the 8th century. This practice, known as furoshiki, makes the art of gift-giving that much more personalised and special.