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Unwrapping the Secret Behind The Art of Gift Giving in Japan

September 24, 2016 3 min read 2 Comments

Furoshiki How To

By now, you’ve probably noticed just how much care Japanese people put into their packaging. The Japanese actually consider the presentation of a gift or product just as important as what’s inside. All kinds of materials are utilized in Japanese packaging, from wooden boxes, to twine, to washi paper. But the most popular material by far is a traditional wrapping cloth called the “furoshiki”.


Furoshiki were commonly used in onsen bath houses like this one

The use of furoshiki possibly dates as far back as the Nara period (7th century) and was originally called "tsutsumi". Back then, it was primarily used to wrap and store important goods. Then during the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the Shogun built a great bathhouse which saw regular use of the tsutsumi. The feudal lords who visited these bathhouses wrapped their clothing in silk tsutsumis printed with their family crests. They did this so their belongings wouldn't be mistaken for another guest's. By the Edo period, as bathhouses became increasingly popular among the public, the word "furoshiki"(風呂敷, fu-rosh-ki), meaning “bath spread”, was adopted. Then as cities developed throughout Japan, the furoshiki became a convenient way for merchants to transport goods, gifts, or bento boxes. 

Furoshiki types

You can find a variety of furoshiki fabrics in the market today from cotton, silk, chirimen (a synthetic crepe material), rayon, to nylon. Its sizes range from smaller than your hand to larger than a bed sheet. It also comes in myriad designs and colors, like floral prints, Japanese geometric patterns, solid colors, and even full portraits, like this one of the famous tsunami painting.

traditional furoshiki wrapping

We at Snakku aim to bring you not only the most authentic snacks but also the most authentic gift-receiving experience from Japan, which is why we wrap all of your Snakku boxes in furoshiki too! The furoshiki we use is made from reusable high-grade Japanese washi paper.

 best subscription gift box

Snakku Packaging with Furoshiki

Yet furoshiki isn’t just any ol’ wrapping cloth. It’s not like you can just take your old Gramp’s handkerchief and call it a furoshiki. No, in fact, what makes a furoshiki, a furoshiki, is the way it is knotted. There are over a hundred ways to masterfully tying a furoshiki and plenty of guides online. We've compiled a Snakku-exclusive furoshiki guide, which gets emailed to you with your first Original Snakku box order!

furoshiki guide

For your Snakku box, we use the most basic wrapping technique, which is the Otsukai Tsutsumi.

furoshiki guide

We know what you’re thinking. It looks like a regular cloth and knot! But take a closer look - this knot can be untied without breaking your fingernails. Intrigued? Here’s how to untie your Snakku furoshiki easily.

furoshiki gif

Set your Snakku box in front of you. With the corner flap of the furoshiki facing you, take the left tip of the knot with your right hand and firmly pull it towards your right. Then with your left hand, grasp the left bridge of the furoshiki and slip it leftwards out of the knot. Go ahead and try it on your next Snakku box! If we did our jobs right, you should be able to untie your Snakku furoshiki without any effort!

While its usage declined in the post-war period due to the proliferation of plastic bags, the furoshiki is now seeing a major comeback in not only Japan but also in the US and abroad. That's because the furoshiki is now considered an environmentally-friendly alternative to wrapping paper or plastic bags and can be used over and over again.

different ways to use furoshiki

It’s often mind-blowing just how versatile the furoshiki has become. You can wrap gifts of all shapes and sizes, like books and wine bottles. Use it as a scarf. Fashion it into a baby sling. Use smaller-sized furoshiki to compartmentalize your items in a large travel bag. Or add handles to make your own totes.  

furoshiki with ring

There’s no limit to what you can do with a furoshiki. All it takes is a little bit of ingenuity. Check out our Pinterest board for some ideas or take a look at this Apartment Therapy article. You’ll be amazed at the many different ways people are using it!

Do you have furoshiki at home or kept the ones from your past Snakku boxes? In what ways are you using it?


beautiful furoshiki knot

Beautifully tied furoshiki gift box

traditional furoshiki

Look at how versatile the furoshiki is

Furoshiki pillow

Easily change up the style of your cushions by wrapping it in a furoshiki

Want to see other aspects of Japanese culture and food? Check out these articles!

2 Responses

Karen Komai Margolis
Karen Komai Margolis

November 10, 2019

Thank you for the gift wrapping hints. Now please let us know where we can purchase some authentic Japanese furoshiki. Onegai shimasu.

Chitta R. Unni
Chitta R. Unni

July 31, 2017

The milk cokies of Sapporo Ahricultural College is the tastiest I have had. Please tell me how to get them,

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