Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Hi dear sister ....... Have you seen those very pretty Japanese cloth wrappings that are used on gifts and bento boxes? And wish you knew how to wrap and tie them? Me too!
Last month I attended a Furoshiki workshop with sister Olivia and moichan. Furoshiki (風呂敷) literally translates to ‘bath spread’, it became popular as a cloth wrap to hold personal belongings in public bath houses during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Furoshiki’s predecessors – Tsutsumi - can be traced back as early as the Nara (710-794), Heian (794-1192) and Kamakura Shogunate (1192-1338) Periods for wrapping valuables stored in the house. Furoshiki was replaced by cheap plastic bags and paper wrappings during the Industrial Revolution in the Showa Period (1926-1989). As we step into the environmentally-conscious 21st Century of recycle and reuse, furoshiki is once again thrived as the eco-friendly (even hip) choice in wrapping objects.
Hehe, enough with the history lesson, let’s find out what furoshiki is. Basically, it is nothing more than a rectangular cloth that you fold and tie knots to make it into different shapes to hold different objects. BUT as we know it, nothing is basic in Japan! Japanese interpret every object with an aesthetic eye and elevate it to an art form, that’s why this refined culture enchants and fascinates me.
Our pretty sensei, she studied lifestyle aesthetics in France, is a sommelier and now owns a furoshiki shop
The furoshiki that Olivia and I chose are floral pattern, pink and spring-y!
First, there are 2 basic knots we need to learn. From there, you can wrap in many styles
Like this double-knotted style for a boxed gift
or a carrying bag style
How about a kawaii shopping bag?
A watermelon pouch?! This has got to be a baby melon :)
A tissue box (Hi Olivia : does this ring a bell? I tried this again, think it's just tieing both ends with a knot :)
A beautiful way to give wine
You can also find many sizes, fabrics, colors and patterns of furoshiki - according to the seasons and occasions. Some special ones have story designs like this painting :
or this one with a Kabuki theme
or with reversible face for the visual effect.
The etiquette of using furoshiki as a gift wrap is a respect to the recipient and implies a message of well wishes. Furoshiki is not considered as part of the gift itself and the recipient is usually expected to return it. I suggest leaving the furoshiki with friends who receive it the first time, I'm sure they'll be delighted. Think I will try using furoshiki for gift giving too as it is both beautiful and eco-friendly. So, are you interested to try it out? There are many instruction books and internet links out there, have fun!