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  • Writer's pictureDeb Smithers

Furoshiki - The ancient art of wrapping


While living in Byron Bay, I ran a homestay for 5 years, opening my house to international students' coming to Australia to study English. Aging from 18 to 40 years, they were all here to experience the iconic coastal town and its much sought after lifestyle.

Hosting for so many students over the years was amazing and looking back now, I was blessed with some really special experiences. It gave me insight into other cultures, traditions, and a deep respect for the beliefs of others. Most of all it instilled in me the desire to travel, escape the comfort zone and experience the wonders that this world has to offer. When the time came for them to leave, they were living in Byron mode, bikinis, boardshorts, over tanned and barefoot.

With a mixture of different nationalities and languages at one time, rarely was the house without laughter. But no nationality fascinated me more than the Japanese, and I would say they were all the most polite, respectful, and funniest people to be around, always bringing happiness to the home and those around them. I remember their little slippers at every door, and bedrooms decorated with Anime & Doraemon figurines.

One very special student was Yuki, who presented me with an interesting gift of a "Furoshiki box". It contained the most beautiful Japanese fabrics in various sizes, bamboo handles, and wooden slide handles, it was one of the most beautiful gifts to receive. We sat as a multicultural family around the table for hours, laughing and trying to master the art of Furoshiki. Think of oversized origami but with fabric, it's not as easy as it looks, but fun trying to master.

So, adding something different to the blog, I want to share with you the significance of the ancient tradition of Furoshiki. Its origins, techniques, and the philosophy of eco-friendliness and minimalism.


Furoshiki Japanese wrapping


Furoshiki is a combination of two words, Furo meaning bath, and shiko meaning sheet. The Japanese tradition involves using a square piece of cloth to wrap and carry items. They were traditionally used for bundling clothes in the bathhouses of Nara as early as 710. In the 18th century, they were used to bundle together the kings' treasures.

Furoshiki is more than just a cloth; it symbolizes eco-conscious living and an homage to tradition. It is often featured in exhibitions and cultural events.

Furishiki. Japanese traditional art of wrapping

It involves a variety of tying, knotting, and folding techniques. The most common are the “basic wrap,” “bottle wrap,” “two-point wrap,” and “three-point wrap.” Furoshiki cloths can be silk and cotton and are influenced by their durability and aesthetic appeal. Evolving into the daily way of wrapping clothes, food, and gifts. But it is more than just a cloth; it symbolizes eco-conscious living and an homage to tradition.

Furoshiki guide

As a general rule when wrapping, your cloth should be about 2/3 larger than the size of your object. 

Japanese wrapped gifts

Collage. make a furoshiki bag step by step

The Bottle Wrap

furoshiki Japanese bottle wrapping

Wrap and carry 2 bottles.

70 cm for one bottle, 90 cm for 2 bottles.

Japanese wrapped bottles for gifts

What is the difference between Furoshiki and Tenugui?

Tenugui - are much thinner and the dimensions are usually rectangular, they are most often used as handcloths.

Furoshiki - are typically thicker and sturdier, a cloth for wrapping gifts or carrying stuff around.

The best thing about Furoshiki is its environmental friendliness. They follow traditional practices that prioritize sustainability. This aligns with the principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling, and in a world grappling with plastic waste and overconsumption, Furoshiki stands as a wonderful sustainable alternative.

poster for why furoshiki is eco wrapping.

  • Furoshiki can double as a great way to carry your things and a picnic blanket combined.

  • Create a grocery bag.

  • Carry all for those excursions.

  • It is an elegant and sustainable way to wrap gifts.

  • Wrap that bottle of wine or two.

  • A lunch bag for bento boxes and tiffins.

  • Carry your books and lunch.

  • Easy way to transport kids' toys.

  • Great little doggy slings

  • Load up with your groceries (It's amazing to see just how much they can hold)

  • They are sturdy and versatile.

  • Water bottle holder with handle.

  • Headwear

  • Intricate designs can create stand-out wall art.

instructions on folding fabric to make a shawl

Make an easy shawl in minutes.

Furoshiki handles to turn anything into a bag.

Adding to your masterpieces, buy a set of straight or circular wooden handles. I love these, as I can make a bag from any sarong, scarf, or cloth that perfectly matches my needs and outfits. Fabulous when traveling.

When traditional Furoshiki meets modern Furoshiki.

Modern day Furoshiki bag

Modern furoshiki bags

Furoshiki set

Stunning Japan with its rich cultural heritage and its blend of modern and traditional elements. Representing peace and harmony. We associate it with Sake, Origami, Cherry blossoms, and of course, Furoshiki!

Watch out for 'Furoshiki Packs' coming to the blog!

A colourful paper crane

Japanese Cranes



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