Japanese Culture 4 - Furoshiki

FUROSHIKI as Japanese Culture

History of Furoshiki

It was first used in the Nara period (710-794) and came to be called “furoshiki” in the Edo period (1603-1867).

The name furoshiki came about because it was used in public bathhouses established in the Edo period.

Japan's oldest picture of the use of furoshiki, "Senmen Koshakyo shita e (the sketch of Ancient Sutra Manuscripts on a fan)", can also be viewed in the Digital Collections of the National Diet Library.

External website National Diet Library Digital Collections

" Senmen Koshakyo shita e (the sketch of Ancient Sutra Manuscripts on a fan)"

Panel No. 10 → Left: flat wrapping, Center: four wrappings

Panel No. 39 → overhead transportation of luggage wrapped in furoshiki on the left and right





Role of the furoshiki

Furoshiki can be used to wrap, carry, cover, or lay things. In addition, the furoshiki can change its shape and have other useful uses depending on the user's ideas. It is also important to add the action of "tying" a single piece of cloth called a furoshiki to expand its convenient uses.


Furoshiki was a sake carrying bag that was used daily in the past. Even today, some chic people still carry sake in furoshiki. The photo shows two bottles of wine wrapped in a furoshiki. The use of Furoshiki as a bag for wine and sake is also being reconsidered.


Furoshiki Shape

A furoshiki is a single, nearly square piece of cloth. In the old days when furoshiki were made from the fabric used to make kimono, it was common practice to make the length of the cloth about 2 cm (some say 2-3 cm) longer than the width.

However, due to changes in the way furoshiki are produced, there are now many square furoshiki on the market and many people believe that furoshiki are "square" in shape.


Many people have questions about the furoshiki made from our kimono fabrics, which we explain in detail.


This is a furoshiki made of Aizu cotton from the Nanami series. The fabric is purchased directly from the weaver in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture, and when it arrives, it is first put through hot water (washed) to shrink it once, then dried and ironed before being produced by seniors. The elderly people take the time and effort to produce the furoshiki in the traditional way.


How to use Furoshiki

Furoshiki can be used in a variety of convenient ways, depending on the user's ideas.

・Wrap a gift and bring it with you (traditional usage)

・Wrapping up stacked boxes or bento boxes

・Popular as furoshiki bags due to reduction of plastic bags and plastic shopping bags

・Wrap a bottle of wine in a furoshiki cloth and present the whole furoshiki in style.

・Wearing a furoshiki blocks air conditioner wind and direct sunlight.

・It can also be transformed into a backpack, hat, or apron when the need arises.

・Use a furoshiki as a rug

・Covering things with a furoshiki

・Decorate a furoshiki as a tapestry on the wall

Furoshiki has unlimited possibilities.



Furoshiki Bag


Watermelon wrapper (Suika Tsutsumi)

Depending on your ideas, the furoshiki can be used to wrap round or square shaped whole cakes, pizzas, and other items.







Furoshiki with a current-style design.

It will please men and women of all ages.

It is an old and new furoshiki.


The photo shows a 50 cm size furoshiki. It can be used not only for wrapping lunch boxes,  but also  as a furoshiki bag to keep the inside of your bag tidy.


Furoshiki Material

In the past, furoshiki were mainly made of silk and cotton, which are representative of natural materials, but with the advent of synthetic fibers in the Showa period (1926-1989), the use of furoshiki expanded.

In addition to the above, furoshiki made of recycled materials such as nylon and plastic bottles are now available, as well as rayon, linen, and various other materials.


And in recent years, furoshiki wrapping cloths that have a water-repellent finish and, surprisingly, can also be used to catch water, have also appeared and are attracting attention.


Possibility of furoshiki

Furoshiki has appeared in elementary school morality textbooks in recent years. In fact, we have purchased those textbooks from several publishers and found that in many textbooks, new ways of using furoshiki are introduced in addition to the traditional ways of using furoshiki.




Efforts to convey “FUROSHIKI" overseas

At a time when COVID-19 had not yet appeared, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government produced approximately 200,000 furoshiki wrapping cloths for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These were to be distributed to people in Japan and abroad for “furoshiki distribution” and “furoshiki experience” at cultural facilities in Tokyo. However, as some events have been postponed due to COVID-19, they are being distributed for free in various projects. It is one that we would love to have in our hands.


External website FUROSHIKI TOKYO



About the concept of the furoshiki being distributed

External website Walphabet



Furoshiki is currently attracting attention not only in Japan but also from overseas from the perspectives of SDGs, ecology, and ethics, not to mention furoshiki as a part of Japanese culture. In English-speaking countries overseas, it is often understood as "FUROSHIKI," "Japanese Wrapping Cloth," or "Wrapper.


Furoshiki Patterns and Designs

There is a wide variety of furoshiki designs in circulation, ranging from furoshiki that follow the traditional kimono patterns of Japanese culture to furoshiki with Western designs designed by foreign designers, which can be selected according to TPO and today's attire.


About Nanami Furoshiki Course and Nanami Online (Online Furoshiki Course)

Nanami International Corp. offers face-to-face furoshiki classes, online furoshiki classes, and furoshiki displays (exhibitions of furoshiki wrapping and knotting), as well as furoshiki lectures on specific themes for corporate groups.

We can come to your designated venue (or online) and hold a furoshiki lecture in English with multiple instructors. If you have participants outside of Japan, we can hold the course online and discuss the time difference with you.


Furoshiki lectures are also held for those who plan to go abroad on overseas assignments, overseas business trips, or overseas study. We welcome those who have many opportunities to introduce Japanese culture overseas (person who will be a Japanese Promotion Ambassador in the future) to attend our lectures.


Depending on the spread of COVID-19 infection, the government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and other authorities may issue measures to prevent the spread of new coronas, etc., and the face-to-face furoshiki lecture may be postponed or changed to a non-contact lecture such as online. We ask for your understanding.


Furoshiki for sale

Furoshiki are available for sale for students of the "Nanami Furoshiki Course" and "Nanami Online Furoshiki Course".

We also offer sales of furoshiki for corporate groups that wish to visit a designated venue to conduct business training such as furoshiki lectures, furoshiki usage courses, furoshiki courses + team building training, etc. We can also arrange for furoshiki wrapping cloths with your logo. Please contact us for details.


External Sites

Nanami Furoshiki Lecture



Nanami Online



Nihon Ai Test - Proficiency Test - fee required

Proficiency test of Furoshiki - Nanami Furoshiki Course

We will post the "proficiency test" (fee required) on this website for Japanese and foreign students who have taken the "Nanami Furoshiki Course", "Online Furoshiki Course", and "Aizu Cotton Furoshiki Course" in the past.

Please take this course as a test of your ability or as a review. In addition, the course is also available in "Yasashii Nihongo”(easy Japanese) for foreigners. We also welcome general people who have not taken the course in the past.