February 23, 2010

Last night I went to an exhibition held by the Kyoto Design Association. The members had created designs for furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping cloths used to carry everything from clothes to bottles of wine). There were some interesting designs and I noticed how different the cloths looked when laid flat, and when wrapped. Some designs I didn’t really like flat, but did like when wrapped, and vice versa. As there are many ways to use and tie furoshiki, it is definitely a skill to create a design that is appealing in all situations.

There seems to be a revival in furoshiki at the moment. People are realising that not only do they look beautiful but that they are an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic bag (ironically it was the introduction of the plastic bag that led to their decline in the postwar period).

The exhibition was held upstairs from Karakusaya, one of Kyoto’s oldest furoshiki makers. Kyoto Foodie has a great article and videos from Karakusaya on how to tie various items and make bags. You can also purchase a pair of rings to use as handles.

Anyone who has spent time in Japan knows that contemporary life here involves reams of plastic – plastic wrappers within another layer of plastic within a plastic bag. In fact, in 2006 the Japanese Minister of the Environment, Yuriko Koike, created the mottanai furoshiki made of a fiber manufactured from recycled PET bottles to promote its use and the reduction of waste. However, most furoshiki are made of cotton or silk.


One Response to “Wrapped”

  1. Kara said

    Fantastic… I will be waitingffor your posts on your japanese adventures…

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