Monday, July 27, 2009

Furoshiki: An Introduction

An essential element of Japanese culture, the furoshiki is a traditional scarf that can cover and transport anything. It was originally used as a bundle to carry clothes or toiletries, but now its uses tend more toward wrapping gifts and carrying everyday objects. It came back into fashion as a mode of eco-packaging that avoids the use of plastic bags.

You can use them in the above ways, as a decorative object (hung on a wall, as table linens, etc.), or as a purse.


  • Square fabric or scarf. Allow for about 1 m (40 inches) each side for an object measuring 20 cm (8 inches).

Main principles

The technique simply involves folding and knotting the square of fabric.

4 basic knots are used in all the patterns:

  • Vertical square knot


  • Square knot


  • Bow tie


  • Single loop bow


Source: a Japanese website found by Raffa, an ecological blogger.


  • Choose your fabric according to the occasion. There's a large variety of materials, colors, and patterns available, ranging from traditional to modern.

  • Figure out the size of the fabric you'll need.
    • Adapt the size of the fabric to the object you're going to wrap. You'll need about 1 m (40 inches) of fabric for an object measuring 20 cm (8 inches).
    • The size varies between 20 and 240 cm (8 and 95 inches). The most common size is 75 cm (30 inches) and the most popular size is 45 cm (18 inches).

  • Place your object to be wrapped in the middle of the fabric.

  • Wrap your object following a pattern or simply following your inspiration. If you opt to follow a pattern, know that there are at least 20 different types of furoshiki. Take the time to choose well and to understand the logic behind the pattern and the instructions before starting.

  • Choose your wrapping style according to the object you're going to wrap.
    • Basic Carry Wrap, 4 Tie Wrap, or Watermelon Carry Wrap


    • Shoulder Carry Wrap, Long Object Wrap, or Flat Object Wrap


    • Slender Object Carry Wrap, 2 Books Carry Wrap, or 2 Knots Carry Wrap


    • Hidden Knot Wrap, 1-Bottle Carry Wrap, or 2-Bottle Carry Wrap


    • Padding Carry Wrap or Hand Carry Wrap


Source of illustrations: Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan

  • Other wrapping examples are available on a completely Japanese website. They're understandable thanks to illustrated patterns. Click freely along the left-hand menu and find something that you love!

Explore further

Source: "Sophie The Blog!!"


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