Using Japanese Furoshiki Cloths as Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

If being eco-conscious is important to you, then you’ll love the Japanese art of furoshiki cloth wrapping this upcoming holiday season or anytime you are presenting a gift to someone.

To an untrained eye, the Japanese furoshiki looks like that of simple cloth. However, the furoshiki cloth is steeped in Japanese history and tradition.

What are furoshiki cloths?

Furoshiki cloths are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths. The furoshiki cloths can be used to transport food products or goods, wrap gifts, or use in decorations. Usually cut into squares or rectangles, you can use just about any type of cloth or scrap fabric for furoshiki wrapping. 

Furoshiki with various designs

Used during the Nara Period, the first furoshiki cloths were used to protect precious temple objects. From that time on they were used in the Heian and Muromachi periods. Some furoshiki is an art form in themselves as intricate designs, patterns and even scenes can be printed on them.

People would use the furoshiki cloths, adorned with their family crests, to wrap their clothing and toiletries in when visiting bathhouses or onsen.

Classic patterns on furoshiki

Due to the rapid growth of paper and plastic bags in the 1940s, use of the furoshiki cloths declined in Japan after World War II. However, there was a renewed interest in the cloth starting around 2006. Today, ancient Japanese art has a large following especially among the environmentally conscious.

What is furoshiki cloth made of?

Modern furoshiki cloths are made with many different types of fabric. Common fabrics are silk, satin, nylon, and rayon with cotton being the most popular type of furoshiki fabric. Cotton is rather inexpensive, widely available, and is a sturdy fabric to protect everyday items. 

Using Furoshiki cloth as an eco-friendly gift wrapping.

You can reuse, recycle and reduce waste with furoshiki cloths to create eco-friendly gift wrapping.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly option to traditional single-use gift wrapping, furoshiki cloths are a perfect option. The wrapping cloths can be used and reused for many years to come.

Traditional Japanese Scene On a Furoshiki

Traditional wrapping paper is wasteful and contributes to our planet’s growing trash problem. By using the furoshiki cloths you can help to reduce waste and still have elegant gifts to present. 

One of the best things about using furoshiki cloths as a gift wrapping alternative is that you don’t have to even buy them. The next time you are decluttering, look around your home and see what you can use as furoshiki material. Some things you may have around your home that can be used as furoshiki are:

  • Blankets
  • Sheets
  • Curtains
  • Tea towels
  • Shirts
  • Pillow cases

Which type of furoshiki cloth should I use for gift wrapping?

While the cotton varieties are always a suitable option for gift wrapping fabric, you may find that cotton is a tad plain. If you are looking for a more elegant furoshiki cloth, choose richly colored silk with hand-painted detailing. 

Winter scene with camelia on furoshiki fabric

Keep in mind that, most likely, the furoshiki cloth will be reused by the receiver of the gift. Choosing fun patterns and colors that coordinate with the specific event or holiday is always a good idea.

Reusing event fabrics like concert tee shirts, college jerseys, and military attire is another way to recycle fabrics for those extra special recipients. 

How to gift wrap with furoshiki cloths

A colorful printed Japanese patterned furoshiki

There are many different methods of wrapping gifts with the furoshiki cloths, but the easiest method is to simply tie the ends together. Choose a square piece of fabric that’s double the size of your gift and follow these instructions:

Layout the fabric square on a flat surface. If using a printed fabric you’ll place the printed side down

Fold one side over the package

Fold the opposite side over the first fold

Pick up the remaining two ends and repeat, tying a knot in the center

Fold the inner area next to the package inward to allow the next fold to cleanly fold over

Repeat this on the opposite side

Fold the two points together

Tie the two ends into a simple knot. This will secure the cloth and allow a strap-like area under the knot to carry

It’s that easy to create a beautiful, eco-friendly wrapping paper alternative. Check out online videos for more helpful tips on the different ways to gift wrap with furoshiki cloths. 

Japanology Episode About Furoshiki NHK

Where can I buy furoshiki wrapping cloth?

The internet has made purchasing almost everything possible and of course, furoshiki cloth are no exception. There are thousands of vendors selling a range of simple to extravagant versions that are readily available for shipping. 

If you’d like to find more traditional pieces, Etsy and eBay are good places to start. You can also locally source scrap materials at your local fabric shop for good deals on fabric. 

If you’re in Japan, there are many places to purchase furoshiki cloth. Most markets and some street vendors sell furoshiki cloths, so when you find yourself on the island be sure to check them out.

Bento And Company Furoshiki Sales

Why should you use Furoshiki Cloth?

It’s no secret that our planet is facing an environmental crisis. The amount of single-use plastics and papers that have filled our landfills is staggering. We are all responsible for doing our part and reducing our waste. 

While there are many different options for eco-friendly wrapping paper, the number of colors, patterns, prints, and textures available for furoshiki cloths makes it hands-down the best environmentally friendly option.

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.