Aug 30, 2018
You know about Furoshiki? The word 風呂敷 means something like 'bath mat.' In the old days, people wrapped their stuff in a furoshiki when they went to the communal bath. Over time, the bath wrapper became a way to carry any item, from your own shopping to gifts for others.
The uses of these carrying cloths, and the ways to tie them, appear to be endless. In my stock of furoshiki, I have two sizes that I prefer. Many furoshiki are handkerchief sized, about 45 cm on a side. A large size may be 72 cm on a side. You can find larger ones, too. There are about a dozen different ways to tie them depending on the object and the use. As you get used to applying them to your daily life, you may discover more and more uses and ingenious ways to wrap objects and tie the ends.
About three times I week, I make and carry to work my own bento box lunch. I often reuse plastic containers from the supermarket so that I can leave work empty handed, the furoshiki tucked into my purse on the way to my evening appointment. Wrapping a plastic box is easy with a handkerchief-sized furoshiki. Simply place the box in the middle and tie the ends on the diagonal over the top of the box. If you tie a double knot on the second pass, then you can create a little loop with which to carry the box.
Here's one of my favorite hankie-sized ones I frequently carry bento box lunch in.
And here it is wrapped around a box.
In my purse I nearly always have a handkerchief- or full-size furoshiki tucked away for any eventuality. On my way home from work I stop by the supermarket or 100 yen shop and my purchases go in a furoshiki. There are two three ways I like to tie a furoshiki for shopping.
One method is to fold it in half into a rectangle, and tie the corners. Another is to fold it into a triangle and tie the corners. A third method is to make a pouch by folding it in half into a rectangle and tying a single knot loosely. Then tie the ends in double knots. You now have a bag with adjustable handles and capacity.
Furoshiki make good gifts, too, and reduce waste at the same time. Some years ago, in preparation for a friend's wedding, I found that a furoshiki wrapped around the offering envelope with mizuhiki was a great substitute for the typical paper wrappers. The furoshiki patterns are similar to the washi paper ones, and the couple can keep the furoshiki as a souvenir.
If you are stuck for furoshiki wrapping ideas, the Ministry of the Environment has advice. You can always use furoshiki as home decor. I cover my windows and furniture with furoshiki, too. Or you can wear them. Thick chirimen and cotton fabrics keep the dust, sun, and chill off.