Okay, I'll admit it -- ripping through wrapping paper is extremely satisfying. But, it's also extremely wasteful. This year, I decided to adopt a new tradition. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese cloth used for wrapping things, including gifts. Originally called Tsutsumi, this art of wrapping was used in Japan as early as 710 AD. Though the cloth is usually made of silk or nylon, the art of furoshiki can be done with just about anything. The idea has been adopted throughout many cultures, including Bojagi in Korea, and less intricate forms of cloth-wrapping are beginning to hit mainstream culture thanks to retailers like LUSH. So why continue to waste money on wrapping paper when you could be reducing your waste, and inspiring others to appreciate a beautiful cultural tradition? Without further ado, here are some common folds that you might want to try this holiday season (and for many to come).
1. Yottsu Tsutsumi (Yottsu Musubi)
What to use it for: Boxes, odd-shaped gifts or just general items.
This is the most basic knot, and you can essentially use it for anything. It's basically just two knots on top of one another. Memorize this and make it your go-to because it's incredibly versatile.
2. Katakake Fukuro
What to use it for: Travel or odd-shaped gifts.
If you have to carry your gift for a while, this is definitely the fold for you. Made of three knots, it forms a bag that you can sling over your shoulder. This is more commonly used for groceries and shopping rather than gifts, but it still holds up either way.
3. Suika Tsutsumi
What to use it for: Travel, heavy gifts, or odd-shaped gifts.
Translating to the melon carry-wrap, this fold is perfect for heavier gifts (with only two knots!). I know I said that you don't necessarily have to use traditional nylon or silk as a furoshiki wrap, but those are much better at holding weight and would be advised for this fold.
4. Bin Tsutsumi
What to use it for: Bottles/jars, tall candles, and other cylinder-shaped gifts.
This is a fairly specialized fold, used traditionally for bottles but can be utilized for anything in a similar shape. Whether you use one or two bottles, the name of the fold is the same. Just make sure all your liquids are tightly shut!
5. Bunny Fold
What to use it for: Small jars/candles or small boxes.
I wasn't able to find the Japanese name for this one, but it's very likely that this was developed and/or popularized as a furoshiki fold in recent history. Much like origami, furoshiki has ancient roots but has expanded as an art form due to renewed prominence in popular culture. Nevertheless, this cute fold is perfect for all your smaller gifts.
As you can see, the art of furoshiki is a beautiful Japanese tradition that's ready to be embraced by other cultures. Take the lead among your family and friends, and use your next gift exchange to teach others about it. You'll save tons of money on wrapping paper over the years, and feel good about reducing your waste. You don't even need the traditional furoshiki cloth to start -- grab an old scarf and start wrapping! Just remember to acknowledge the art form's Japanese roots, and appreciate what internationalism has to offer us.