Furoshiki: What’s Old Is New Again

While there are definitely gift givers who have been wrapping gifts in fabric without ever hearing the word furoshiki, millions more are just now looking for creative ways to ditch the waste generated by paper gift wrap and are learning about this ancient Japanese tradition through social media.

Today, U.S. households generate 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve than they do during the rest of the year and if every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. It isn’t surprising that savvy, eco conscious consumers are searching for an alternative to paper gift wrap, especially since much of it is not recyclable.

Shiki Wrap has received local and national recognition. Click the following link to read press coverage about our eco friendly wrapping paper.

While Shiki Wrap was designed for today’s eco conscious gift givers who want to be able to give a beautifully-wrapped gift to their recipient while caring for the planet, the concept of wrapping gifts in fabric dates back to the Nara period (eighth century) in Japan. It was originally used for wrapping items such as the stoles of Buddhist priests and the costumes of minstrels.

Chizuko Morita, author of Gift Wrapping with Textiles: Stylish Ideas from Japan, provides an illustrative history of the tradition in her books, and has dedicated her time and skill to reviving the tradition, which fell out of favor in Japan in the mid-1900’s.

Morita writes, “The powerful influence of American culture following the post-World War II occupation of Japan by U.S. armed forces rapidly transformed the traditional Japanese way of life and values, including the custom of bridal furoshiki.” 

furoshiki history and book

Not only does Morita chart the historical ascent and decline of the tradition in her many books, but she serves as a tireless advocate for reviving the tradition to this day. Morita was the mastermind behind the new concept of not simply taking the furoshiki back after use, but incorporating the wraps as a gift within a gift.

She writes, “My suggestion is to give the furoshiki, or piece of fabric, as part of the gift. By wrapping a gift in a piece of carefully selected fabric, the giver can express the purpose of the gift, echo the spirit of the season, or show their feelings for the recipient. And handing it over in person is sure to bring the latter even greater joy.”

Morita has dedicated her life in recent years to teaching her techniques to Americans and Europeans in Kyoto, Tokyo and Boston. Morita’s generosity of spirit was evident in her support of the development of Shiki Wrap, a reusable reversible wrap printed on fabric derived from recycled plastic. Her furoshiki study group formally studied and endorsed the product, and encourages Shiki Wrap customers to make use of her resources, books and materials.

Traditional Japanese furoshiki comes in standard, square sizes with themes including:

  • Abundant Harvest furoshiki depicting a pair of cranes, most likely representing marital harmony for husband and wife;
  • Long life and chrysanthemums designs for good fortune;
  • Carp swimming up a waterfall, which may be interpreted as celebrating the birth of a child.
Shiki Wrap has new designs in development for various occasions, including wraps for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. Our designs are released in limited collections in short runs, as we aim to reduce waste in our production and only produce inventory with demand. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified of preorders when they are available.

Shiki Wrap is generally produced in 3 standard furoshiki sizes: 18”, 28” and 36” squares. We are also developing our reusable gift bags, handles to transform wraps into bags, clips for cards/tags, and other accessories.