A gift without wrapping is like a cake without frosting — and where’s the fun in that? However, the waste associated with hard-to-recycle wrapping paper means that, for many people, only reusable materials will do. The Japanese have long understood the value of wrapping gifts using fabric, known as furoshiki, and have turned it into an art form.
For a lesson on furoshiki history, design, and wrapping techniques, The Times spoke with Yamada Sen-i, a manufacturer and wholesaler of furoshiki, founded in Kyoto in 1937. The company, which owns the furoshiki brand Musubi with retail stores in Tokyo and Kyoto, offers more than 500 patterns, including traditional motifs such as cranes and flower blossoms as well as contemporary designs.
On a video call last month from the company’s headquarters in Kyoto, Kensuke Kawamura, head designer, and Ayano Hasui, head of international sales and press, shared their tips for wrapping, reusing, and gifting furoshiki. With more than 25 wrapping techniques included in “The Furoshiki Handbook,” the design options are virtually endless.
Furoshiki has been used for more than 1,300 years and is available in three main sizes made of materials such as silk, organic cotton, and recycled polyester. The patterns and colors on furoshiki commonly include traditional motifs like cranes and contemporary designs with vibrant colors.
A basic technique for wrapping with furoshiki involves placing the furoshiki at an angle, so it’s a diamond shape, placing the gift box in the middle, folding the corners, and tying them into a simple bow. The size of the furoshiki is important when wrapping, and it can also be reused for various purposes such as turning into a bag or wall décor after the gift is unwrapped.