Packaged with love.

The Japanese word furoshiki refers to cloth that has been used to wrap items for gift-giving or travel and transport. Though similar methods existed prior, the use of the word “furoshiki” dates to the Muromachi period (1136 BCE-1573 BCE). It is a practical art, aesthetically pleasing, demonstrating skill and practice, and providing everyday use.

Image tutorial of furoshiki methods

Names of methods:

Otsukai: basic carry wrap
Yotsu Musubi: 4 tie wrap
Suika Tsutsumi: watermelon carry wrap
Katakake fukuro: shoulder carry wrap
Entou tsutsumi: long object wrap
Tesage bukuro: hand carry wrap
Kousa tsutsumi: slender object carry wrap
hon tsutsumi: two book carry wrap
kakushi tsutsumi: hidden knot wrap
bin tsutsuki 1: bottle carry wrap 1
bin tsutsumi 2: bottle carry wrap 2
Sao tsutsumi: padding carry wrap
From Japan’s Ministry of the Environment

Its name, “furoshiki” represents its origins. It is a combination of the words “furo (風呂)”, meaning “bath”, and “shiki (敷)”, meaning “spread”, said to originate in its use as a method of carrying items to and from bathhouses.

This art also demonstrates the continuing values of centuries-old traditions; in a world increasingly concerned with sustainability, it is an eco-friendly replacement for wrapping paper. The long-standing tradition developed many methods over time, and those who have gained skill in the process can create innovative wrapping methods.

image of tea towels for use in modern furoshiki for modern, colorful designs
From My Poppet Makes

This personalized, intentional method of wrapping is a perfect method for Valentine’s Day when in the West, women are often seen as the main gift recipients of the holiday. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a time for women and girls to give their partners or crush chocolates instead. This is said to be the result of a translation error on the part of candy executives who were encouraging the holiday in the 50s when many in Japan were fascinated in participating in Western traditions.

There’s an entirely different day referred to as “White Day” on March 14th, where the roles reverse, and it is men’s turn; they, however, are expected to give three times as much value in return for gifts they received the month before. This day similarly developed from the business world, this time as they realized their translation mistake could be used as an opportunity to establish this second day of returning the sentiment.

There’s no need to be too cynical about the origins! These binary holidays don’t work for everyone, and these dates are just dates. But like the tradition of “pal-entine’s day”, spent with other single friends, or self-care routines for fostering self-love on the day, these holidays can be used as an opportunity to double your excuses to express some extra love to the important people in your life. And when you do, consider trying out the unique method of gift-wrapping that is furoshiki.

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