What Is Furoshiki?
Furoshiki is a square-shaped Japanese traditional wrapping cloth that is eco-friendly and mostly used for wrapping gift, carrying goods or just as a décoration.
It also refers to the art and/or technique of wrapping goods and gifts using cloth and fabric instead of wrapping paper. The term Furoshiki comes from two different words, which are “Furo” and “Shiki” meaning “Bath” and “To Spread”.
Furoshiki cloth is usually made of cotton, nylon, silk, or rayon. A wide variety of designs and sizes are available, so people get to choose furoshiki based on their/the receiver’s own taste.
History of Furoshiki
Furoshiki originated in Japan around 710 B.C. during the Nara period. During this time, the 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. During the Heian period, which lasted from 794 to 1185, the cloth was called koromo utsumi, and it was mostly used to wrap clothing.
Then, the name furoshiki was applied during the Muromachi period, which lasted from 1136 to 1573. It was said that there was a Shogun during this era who has a large bathhouse in his residence and invited feudal lords to stay and use the facility.
These guests would wrap their kimonos in furoshiki cloth while they bathed as to not confuse them with others’. Often, the clothes were adorned with family crests and emblems as further indications of who they belonged to. Many stood on the fabrics while drying after bathing, hence the translation of the word “bath spread.”
Ever since then, furoshiki immediately became popular with all elements of society, as bathhouses became the designated area to wash, relax, and socialize. It didn’t take long before the custom spread to other areas such as wrapping books, gifts, and merchandise.
In 2006, the Japanese Minister of the Environment, Yuriko Koike, even promoted furoshiki cloth in an effort to increase environmental awareness and reduce the use of plastic. If you like watching anime, you might also notice that the furoshiki is popular among Japanese schoolchildren, even working adults as well, to carry bento boxes.
Why You Should Consider Using Furoshiki
Because the wrapping itself is reusable, furoshiki is a sustainable alternative to traditional wrapping paper. Keep in mind that plastic-coated gift bags and boxes will most likely up in the landfill.
Gifts, especially home-made ones, do not always come in a regular shape or with a box. With furoshiki, one can wrap their gifts/things no matter how bizarre or irregularly-shaped they might be, as long as your fabric is big/wide enough.
Convenient and Economical
If you remember to always use what you already have at home, then a furoshiki technique will save you a lot of money and resources. Forget about the bubble wraps and sticky tapes.
Using the furoshiki technique might even help you declutter your wardrobe and putting those old and unused fabrics to good use.
How to Make It?
The first and foremost thing that you need to make furoshiki is a square fabric/cloth.
Another aspect that you might want to pay attention to is the type of fabric that you will be using, for example, a thin fabric won’t be sturdy enough to hold the items, and if it’s too see-through it can reveal what’s inside.
The ideal fabric is sturdy and thick enough to protect the objects, but not so thick that it’s difficult to tie the ends. Cotton is a durable and popular option
However, don’t just decide that you need to buy a new fabric that is specially made for furoshiki purposes. We dare to say that you can probably find/have a fabric/cloth at your home that fits your need just right.
Here are some fabrics that you can use: handkerchief and bandanas, tablecloths, scarves, cloth napkins, bed or pillow sheets, tea towels, or even fabric scraps from your activity. You can even ask your local tailor!
Once you found the right fabric, it’s time to start wrapping. Below are several step-by-step wrapping techniques to wrap various kinds of goods/gifts.