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The History of Furoshiki

Updated: Feb 16

Good news! If you’ve been looking for sustainable wrapping paper alternatives, you’ve just found it – and the genius method goes by the name of Furoshiki.

The meaning of Furoshiki

The heaven-sent, sustainable wrapping practice that all the save-the-planeters are campaigning for is a combination of two Japanese words – “furo” meaning bath, and “shiki” meaning to spread.

The history of Furoshiki

The beautifully artistic and wonderfully ecological use of Furoshiki first emerged in the Nara period ( AD 710 to 794) in Japan and was initially used for keeping, carry and preserving valuable items belonging to Japanese Emperors at the time.

Later on (in the Heian period in Japan, 794-1185) the use for Furoshiki began to evolve, and began to be used to wrap and carry the clothes of noble Japanese people. A few hundred years later in the Japanese Muromachi period (1338-1573), Shogun Ashikaga (a member or one of the most powerful families in Japan at the time) built a lavish steam bath house. Here, special guests consisting of Japanese Lords would use silk cloths embroidered with their family crests to identify and keep their clothes separate from other bath-takers.

As time passed, the multi-use of Furoshiki began to expand and evolve, and in the Japanese Edo period (1603 – 1868), Furoshiki became popular and trendy in public bathhouses to help while undressing for the baths, and also to carry and wrap visitors clothes, and this is where Furoshiki attained its modern name. Not soon after, Furoshiki became the primary means for transporting goods, and is still being used today.

How to choose a Furoshiki fabric to wrap with

  • Silk - Silk wrap is traditionally used to wrap luxury, top - end gifts and items.

  • Cotton - Due to its versatility, cotton wrap can be used for wrapping items and can even be used to make bags and shawls. Cotton is also a more affordable fabric than silk.

  • Rayon - This material is perfect for when you’re after the touch of silk, but not the price of silk. Although Rayon is typically more durable than silk, it must be kept away from water as much as possible.

  • Polyester - Polyester is another multi-use fabric which is perfect for wrapping gifts. Polyester can possess the boldest and brightest of colours, and is also water resistant and therefore easy to clean and uphold.


Furoshiki Today

Due to the regretful introduction of the use of plastic bags as a means of transporting goods in 1965, the popularity of Furoshiki took a backseat. But now, as the planet needs it the most, the both ancient and revolutionary beautiful Japanese fabric wrapping practice is beginning to receive the world-wide attention it needs.

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