Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth “furoshiki” have many ways to tie them. That’s why we at INSIDE LOCAL JAPAN have decided to make a how-to guide on how to tie furoshiki from the very basics to tying items like boxes, long objects, and bottles.
The first tying method we will teach how to do is called “mamusubi”.
The characteristic of mamusubi is that once you tie it, it doesn’t come untied on its own, but when you want to untie it, you can easily do it like magic. On the other hand, in “tatemusubi” (the granny knot), the knot comes loose easily, but once you tie it too tight, it is hard to untie it. The way to distinguish these two tying methods is that in “mamusubi” the knot is parallel to the object, while in “tatemusubi” the knot is perpendicular to the object. Learning the correct way to do “mamusubi” is the first step in mastering the way to wrap furoshiki.
What is furoshiki?
Furoshiki is a cloth for storing, preserving, carrying stuff. One of its characteristics is that it’s not entirely square in shape, and instead the length of its top and bottom side and left and right side are slightly different. It is said that it originated during the Nara period, has been used since very long time ago, and used to be called “hirazutsumi” (flat folded bundle). At that time, people did not enter the bath naked, but instead men and women wore a loincloth. It is also said that people bundled their clothes in dressing rooms using hirazutsumi, which is why hirazutsumi came to be called furoshiki (lit. bath spread).
The cloths are often made of cotton, but sometimes materials like silk crepe, and satin are also used. The color of furoshiki has a meaning, and there is even a traditional etiquette on which color to use depending on the event. For example, red cloth is used for celebration, purple cloth is used to show respect to the recipient, indigo cloth is used during unhappy events, and wasabi-colored cloth is used both for congratulating and for offering condolences.
From the Meiji period onwards, items like bags, handbags, and shingen bukuro (cloth bags) became the major use for furoshiki, and people using furoshiki started declining, but recently, because it is easy to get attached to and is convenient in everyday life, people who use furoshiki as a fashion item have started to increase.
Furoshiki, which is light, doesn’t take up storage space, and can be used to wrap items of any shape, has once again attracted a lot of attention as a traditional item that is very easy to carry around. In addition, furoshiki has also attracted attention among foreigners as an ecological item, that can easily be washed when it gets dirty, and can be used multiple times before it breaks.
The furoshiki that we taught can be bought from these shops.
There are various other furoshiki designs, as well, so you should definitely try to look for your favorite one.
- Fuysukaichi Onsen, a must-visit place when visiting Chikushino City, Fukuoka Prefecture