Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth which can be used time and time again and in a multitude of different applications.
One of the primary uses for a furoshiki is as an easy zero-waste way to wrap gifts.
History of furoshiki
Furoshiki originated in Japan around 710 B.C. and was initially referred to as tsutsumi, meaning “package” or “present”.
It was during the Muromachi period (1136 to 1573) that the term furoshiki came into use. Literally translated as "bath spread", guests at bathhouses would wrap their kimonos in furoshiki cloth while they bathed to stop them from getting dirty or lost and would also stand on the fabrics while getting dry.
Since then, the use of furoshiki has developed a whole host of uses including wrapping books, gifts, and merchandise or as reusable bags.
Fabric wrapping techniques
This infographic will show you how to tie a basic box wrap and how to wrap a single bottle. These instructions are included with every furoshiki wrap ordered.
There is an excellent infographic from the Japanese Government at the bottom of the page showing more of the many ways that furoshiki can be used.
Below is a video guide to wrapping with a neat knot technique:
See our video guides to watch more basic wrapping techniques.
What size furoshiki to use
For most wrapping, the size of the object should be approximately one-third of the furoshiki’s diagonal line.
The following sizes tend to work well for a range of objects:
- Mini - 30cm - jewellery, jam jar or small candle
- Small - 45cm - book or DVD's
- Medium - 75 cm - clothing, a bottle of wine, medium toy or game
- Large - 90 cm - two bottles of wine or a game
Furoshiki giving etiquette
In Japan it is traditional for the furoshiki to be returned to the giver. It is up to you whether you choose to keep the wrapping cloth or include it a part of your gift. If you would like it returned,why not add a gift tag saying “Please adopt the Japanese tradition of returning this wrap to the giver, with thanks”.
If the furoshiki wrap itself becomes part of the gift to the recipient, they can choose whether to use the furoshiki to wrap a gift from themselves in the future, continuing the furoshiki's life delivering presents.
Uses for Japanese fabric wraps
Furoshiki can be used in a variety of different ways other than as gift wrapping, including as a:
- lunchbox wrapper
- reusable shopping bag
- picnic hamper
- pocket square
- tissue box cover
- portable Thermos cover
- household décor
- scarf, belt or bandana
- as clothes organisers for travelling
Furoshiki in Japan today
The Japanese government is promoting the use of furoshiki wraps as an environmentally friendly alternative to wrapping paper and shopping bags and has produced the handy infographic below to illustrate some more of the many ways to use the furoshiki wraps:
The infographic can be downloaded as a pdf file here.