Furoshiki: the Japanese art of wrapping with cloth

The beauty of Christmas is to convey, to those who are in our heart, the care that we love to give to them. Our gifts, after all, do not mean anything else than this.

If this year we want to make one more step in this direction, we should think of the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, which enriches our gifts by wrapping them with fabrics similar to shawl according to precise techniques.

The choice of the fabric and its decoration, how to wrap and tie it, the sober elegance of the final appearance: our gift will represent attention, simple and dedicated gestures, care and beauty. Fundamental values of the Japanese culture, which, not surprisingly, the British anthropologist Joy Hendry has defined in one of her books “wrapping culture”.

The origin of the furoshiki is very remote but it became popular only in the Edo period (1603-1868).

In that period in fact, for a large part of the population, it was quite common to go to public baths and to wrap in fabric the clothes brought to change into. The same fabric was also used as towel: hence the name furoshiki, which originally meant “to lay in the bathroom”.

Started with a purely functional purpose, the furoshiki has then acquired also a strong aesthetic value yet without losing its initial significance. The result is an all Japanese union between beauty and functionality, the same one that describes the approach of this culture towards the aspects of day-to-day life.

Today, the furoshiki techniques are used for example to package gifts, create or decorate bags, prepare a picnic basket or pack clothes to be carried for a trip.

Their revival in recent years has been promoted since 2006 by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment through the “Mottainai Furoshiki” initiative which also shows the steps in practice.