Furoshiki are large square pieces of cloth made of silk, cotton, or other materials and are used to wrap, store, or carry things. Because of their brilliant colors and patterns, using furoshiki to wrap gifts have evolved into an artform of its own. The name comes from the custom of wrapping clothes in such a cloth in baths during the 17th century. Its size can vary from the small fukusa used in tea ceremonies and to wrap small, delicate items like letters, to large ones that can hold a futon in. Even hard to carry objects like watermelons or wine bottles can be quickly wrapped up in a furoshiki in a stylish way. There are many ways to fold, tie, and knot a furoshiki depending on the size and shape of your items. If you’ve never used a furoshiki before it might take a few tries to get it just right – not too loose, nor too bulky. Furoshiki are versatile; they can be reused over and over again, and once your done you can fold it away until the next time you need them. Because of this the Japanese government is trying to revive the use of furoshiki instead of plastic bags due to the impact they have to environmental pollution.
Today, furoshiki are most often used during weddings and funerals. Couples getting married in a traditional Japanese ceremony use furoshiki to wrap their presents for their wedding guests, and the knot holding it together represents the strong bond between the two families. Though furoshiki are often decorated with traditional patterns and symbols, the new trend of using them for interior designs had increased the colors and patterns to pick and choose from. Large furoshiki make brilliant tablecloths, while smaller ones can be used to “wrap” pillows. Furoshiki devotees can be inventive in folding a furoshiki to display the to advantage. So far I’ve only learned a few of the basic tricks to wrap boxes and bottles, but I’m planning to add more to my repertoire in the days to come.