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Japanese Gift-Wrapping and Furoshiki

Updated on August 31, 2014

It's NOT Just Inside That Counts

When it comes to Japanese gifts, it's not the inside that really counts. Gift-wrapping, called tsutsumi, is the most important part of the gift-giving it seems. How you wrap and tie the package is considered especially symbolic and carries a lot of expression about how you feels towards the person and the gesture of giving them a gift.

The wrapping around the gift is seen as being part of the entire gift experience, with the opening and revealing of the contents viewed as one complete experience. In Western culture, gift-wrapping seems mostly just meant to conceal the gift, with unwrapping often being very perfunctory or even crude. Japanese gifts are aestheic and beautiful on the outside, with the same full expression of the culture's love of balance, nature, novelty and simplicty.

The root of the word tsutsumi is the word that means "to refrain" meaning to be discreet or moderate. Simple but gorgeous paper wrapping, tied with gentle natural fibers or thin ribbons make a bold but beautiful understatement when compared to the flashy papers and big bows found in American forms of wrapping.

Simple Wrap and Tie

Your basic package wrap done with a cloth furoshiki.
Your basic package wrap done with a cloth furoshiki. | Source

Visit a famous Furoshiki store in Kyoto

The History of Furoshiki

One type of wrapping that is uniquely Japanese is the furoshiki. The word itself translates as "bath spread" and is a large piece of cloth that was originally used to carry your clean clothing and bath items to the public bath house. Usage expanded to carrying groceries and other small shopping purchases. Eventually the furoshiki was used for wrapping and transporting wares to market, and in modern times is also employed as a way to wrap and give gifts.

Furoshiki can be made of just about any kind of fabric (cotton, silk, rayon or nylon) and there is no standard size. You get or make your furoshiki as large as you need it to be for whatever you are wrapping and carrying. There are dozens of methods for tying a furoshiki, most of which turn some part of the fabric into a convenient handle for the person doing the carrying.

After World War II, the modern plastic bag began to replace traditional methods of carrying purchases. However with environmental concerns on the rise, using a furoshiki has come back into fashion as it is reusable and eliminates trash.

See how to tie a Furoshiki

Make Your Own Furoshiki

It's a lot easier to make your own furoshiki than you think! Really, it can be just about any square or rectangle of cloth. Using a print makes it look much more traditional than using a plain color.

Sew your own - If you are handy with a sewing machine, it's easy to get the right size piece of fabric you need and hem it yourself. You can try your local fabric store, or if you are on a really tight budget, look for fabrics at thrift stores. You never know what you might find that works beautifully.

Find things that work at thrift stores - One of the most common sizes for a furoshiki is about 17" square, which is approximately the same size as the modern Western men's handkerchief. Ladies scarves are also good recycled as a furoshiki. Both of these items can be hunted down for very low-costs at your local thrift stores.

The Wrap Up - comments and feedback

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    • relache profile image

      Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Cloth wrapping around the world is very similar.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      their wrapping style reminds me of Wallace and gromit. Gromit wrap up his bundle like that when he left home.

    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

      This looks really interesting and cool!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      Very lovely. Always glad to see a reusable gift wrapping.

    • SilkThimble profile image

      SilkThimble 5 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Some very good information and useful resources.

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Lovely. I enjoyed your background and suggestions. This also cuts down on waste from disposable gift wrap.

    • catherinenbrooks profile image

      Catherine Brooks 6 years ago from Santa Rosa, CA

      Wow....Superb.....I like it....thanks

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 6 years ago from Georgia

      Wow! That was a great how to. I have a birthday gift to wrap and I love different ways to wrap gifts I present. I will wrap Japanese style today. Thanks so much.

    • profile image

      anjali 6 years ago

      this so cool. the idea is so great

    • tpneversaynever profile image

      tpneversaynever 6 years ago from California

      Beautiful. I'm very inspired to try this. Thank you!

    • vandell profile image

      vandell 6 years ago

      Wow! Thumbs up

    • deblipp profile image

      deblipp 6 years ago

      Excellent hub!!!!

      The hub which is projected towards presenting the gift is simple fabulous. It is true that, how you wrap and tie the package is considered especially symbolic and carries a lot of expression about how you feels towards the person and the gesture of giving them a gift. Thanks for sharing such a valuable peace of text.

    • profile image

      adair_francesca 6 years ago

      Great hub. I consider gift wrapping as an art. The designs and the wrapping materials used are wonderful, it adds some beauty as well as increases the excitement of the person who will receive the gift.

    • Kristine B profile image

      Kristine B 6 years ago

      How fun!

    • profile image

      bletchen 6 years ago from uk

      These are really cool. I used to do a bit of origami as a kid, and japanese art has a certain something about it - it's always very intricate and you can see the time that's been put into it - nice hub by the way :-)

    • HolyLandGifts profile image

      HolyLandGifts 6 years ago from Vancouver

      very cool :D going to try next holiday :)

    • CarolMerc profile image

      CarolMerc 6 years ago from LA

      Looks great! Nice inspiration.

    • KristenBrockmeyer profile image

      KristenBrockmeyer 6 years ago from Augusta, MI

      You could give someone dog kibble as a gift and they'd still be thrilled because of the incredible wrapping! Great article. :)

    • RoseGardenAdvice profile image

      RoseGardenAdvice 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Awesome .. Good effort :)

    • iZeko profile image

      iZeko 6 years ago

      This is so cool!! I'll have to try it.

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