What is Japanese Furoshiki Fabric Wrapping?

By Susan Fletcher
Japanese fabric wrapping furoshiki

What is Furoshiki fabric wrapping?

Functional, versatile, environmentally friendly, and culturally interesting, furoshiki refers to a fabric wrapping technique that can quickly turn a simple square of cloth into a bag, a wrapping for a gift, or a home decor covering using folds, twists and simple knots. There is no need to sew the fabric, although some may prefer to hem the fabric's edges.

Here are a few examples:


furoshiki fabric wrapping

The word furoshiki comes from furo “bath’ and shiku a form of the verb meaning “to spread”. The original name for these wrapping cloths would have been hirazutsumi, a flat folded bundle. They came to be called furoshiki in the Edo period in Japan (1603-1668) when the public bathhouses became social gathering places for the common people. A large square of cloth (or furoshiki), was spread on the floor to pile clothing and personal belongings on while the owner was in the bath, and then was used to wrap wet clothing and towels in to carry away after.

Here is sample of a flat wrap, but in miniature and with a fancy tie finish since it is wrapping a gift.

flat package furoshiki fabric wrap

Furoshiki is associated with the Japanese culture most likely because the Japanese raised the simple bundle and tie techniques used by many cultures to carry goods to a new level by adapting them into beautiful gift wrapping techniques. There are hundreds of ways of wrapping a furoshiki, from elaborate shapes representing flowers and animals, to elegant twisted decorative elements.

This is my try at elaborate and I can't say its my best work! 🤣

furoshiki wrapping

But with a silky cloth and a lot of tucking and twisting I managed this:

furoshiki gift wrapping with fabrics

I t's not bad really...

But I think I'll stick tot he easier ones. This one is based on the rabbit ears wrap and is my favourite.

furoshiki gift wrapping

The practice of wrapping with cloth declined with the increased use of plastic bags and disposable commercial wrapping papers, and many of the techniques for tying bags and gift wrappings are being lost, but concern for the environment is creating a resurgence of interest, and the art of furoshiki is back.

Tie a few and you will be hooked by how much fun they are to make, as well as by how well they work. My next blog (next week) will show you how.

And you will enjoy the comfortable feeling of reducing waste in the environment too!

Wishing you a all safe happy holiday season,