The history of Japanese Furoshiki
Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese fabric wrap and has existed in Japan for over 1,200 years. Pronounced foo-roh-shee-kee, the word breaks down to mean ‘bath spread.’
In its earliest days, furoshiki was used by noble families and feudal lords to wrap their clothes when visiting the public baths. Public bathing was a popular thing at the time, so to prevent their belongings from becoming confused for someone else’s, bathers would wrap their possessions in a furoshiki with their family crest printed on it.
In the 20th century, the sewing machine arrived in Japan. With this advancement in technology, furoshiki could be printed for the masses and it became more popular among common people. The traditional fabric wrap was used to transport merchandise, carry tools, use as a travel bag and wrap gifts.
The use of luggage bags, handbags and wrapping paper in modern times has resulted in a decline of popularity, but the more recent demand for eco-friendly products has resulted in a new demand for furoshiki internationally.
Fabric wrapping is seen as an art in Japan. While the western world may demand designs and patterns for western occasions, the ancient and traditional Japanese methods for wrapping furoshiki are still as relevant today as ever.
Happy wrapping and cheers to the past — and future — of furoshiki!