FUROSHIKI (Life in Kyoto Vol.、)

Life in Kyoto(Vol.、)

 Several sheets of furoshiki are always kept in every home in Japan, regardless of use. TAKEMURA Akihiko, a lover of furoshiki, says in his book Furoshiki that their rich patterns and designs, and the beautiful method of tying them make furoshiki a unique and traditional Japanese culture, though the custom of wrapping articles in cloth has existed in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
 The custom of using cloth for wrapping in Japan began as early as the Nara Era(710-794) and the name "furoshiki," which combines the words "furo" meaning "bath" and a form of the verb "shiku" meaning "to spread," dates back to the Edo Era(1603-1868) when public baths were in fashion, and people carried their belongings in a square cloth, then spread the cloth for use as a bath-mat.
 There are 20 different types of Furoshiki, ranging in size from 20 to 240 square centimeters. The most common size is about 75 square centimeters, and the most popular is 45 square centimeters. Materials used to make furoshiki include silk, wool, cotton, rayon, and other chemical fibers. Patterns and colors are of a wide variety, from plain-colored with a family name or crest to fine, traditional patterns, and even modern patterns.
 There are three basic ways of wrapping with furoshiki:
 1. hirazutsumi (平包み = just wrapping),
 2.hitotsumusubi(一つ結び = with one knot), and
 3.futatsumusubi(二つ結び = with two knots).
Other methods are all variations. Some practical methods of wrapping furoshiki are as follows:

 1. Hirazutsumi is the most courteous method of wrapping, it is suitable for    wrapping gifts in silk crepe furoshiki.
 2. Otsukaizutsumi(お使い包み) is the most popular way of wrapping square     articles.
 3. Binzutsumi(びん包み) is a method of wrapping long bottles.
 4. Kakushizutsumi(隠し包み), a modification of otsukaizutsumi, is a good way    of wrapping heavy articles.
 5. Makizutsumi(巻き包み) is a method for wrapping cylindrical articles such    as tea canisters and scrolls.
 6. Hikkakezutsumi(ひっかけ包み) is a two-knot method for wrapping         rectangular boxes
 7. Suikazutsumi(すいか包み) is the method used for wrapping watermelons.

NOTE: Cotton furoshiki should be tied tightly, while silk ones should be tied lightly.

 There are a few rules regarding the wrapping of money-envelopes given to express congratulations or condolences. First, small, 45 square centimeters furoshiki should be used. For happy events, patterns such as pines, bamboo, and plums should be used. For unhappy events, lotus-leaf patterns are used. Purple furoshiki with no pattern can be used for either occasion. The left end of the furoshiki should be folded first for happy occasions, while the right end is folded first for unhappy events. It is good manners to unwrap and present the article, keeping the furoshiki.
 Furoshiki are often used as hats, hair accessories, scarves, dresses or slacks, bags, etc. They can also be used for interior decorating as a tapestry or tablecloth. It is indeed a "magic" cloth -a simple sheet of cloth of infinite shapes and functions.
(For further information about furoshiki, contact the Furoshiki Kenkyu Kai at tel. 075-432-2722. fax.075-432-3832)

Y. matsuda

"A Bit of Kansai: Wrap up your troubles in your old furoshiki" Stephanie L. Cook. Japan times. July 2, 1994.
Data from Furoshiki Kenkyu Kai represented by MORITA Chizuko.

Furoshiki Kenkyu Kai:E-Mail CXV00174 @nifty.ne.jp