You may have heard the word, “furoshiki” before. It represents a piece of decorative fabric that can be used for gift wrapping, transporting items, interior decorations, etc.
The history of furoshiki goes back to the Nara period (710-794) and was originally called “tsutsumi” (to cover or to wrap). It was used to wrap and help protect treasures at Japanese temples.
About 600 years ago during the Muromachi period (1336-1573), shogun (general) Yoshimitsu Ashikaga built a large bath house in Kyoto and invited feudal lords from various regions in Japan. In order not to confuse with others’ belongings, the feudal lords used furoshiki fabric with their family crests to wrap their kimonos as well as using it as a bath mat after the bath. The name furoshiki was based on the fact that the fabric was used for bathing (furo in Japanese) and sitting or standing on like a rug (shiki in Japanese).
Soon use of furoshiki became popular among the public and it was largely used to transport merchandise, carry tools, wrap gifts, take as travel bags, etc.
Although usage of furoshiki faded in Japan after the invention of luggage, handbags, wrapping papers, etc., recently it’s gaining popularity again. Today furoshiki is enjoyed as a fashion item due to its versatility and eco-friendly aspects.
Above images: examples of furoshiki usage today (Images from: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2142033417691987901, http://www.mashu-kyoto.com/products/hyotan-shantan-l.html, http://www.kakefuda.co.jp/scenes/scenes_01.html, http://parismag.jp/life/955）
Furoshiki is also largely used as gift wrapping today. Here are the videos show some of the techniques you can use in a modern life style. I hope you enjoy 1200 years of history through the Japanese furoshiki wrapping with these videos!