Asian Canadian arts and culture magazine, Ricepaper, published an article in 2010 on the art of furoshiki – a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth used in various folding patterns to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. According to research furoshiki dates back as far as the Nara period, with its name, meaning "bath spread" derived from the Edo period practice of using them to bundle clothes while at the sentō (public baths). Over time, the furoshiki’s usage extended to serve as a means for merchants to transport their wares or to protect and decorate a gift. Modern furoshiki can be made out of a variety of cloths, including silk, chirimen, cotton, rayon, and nylon. It is not most commonly seen used to wrap and transport lunch boxes (bento) and often double as a table mat. On March 6, 2006, the Japanese Minister of the Environment, Yuriko Koike, created a furoshiki cloth in an effort to promote its use across the modern world.
Here is a great visual guide from the The Japanese Ministry of the Environment
showing how to wrap all sorts of gift items.
This holiday season, rather than wrapping your gifts in paper that gets torn and tossed after a single use, why not try furoshiki instead. Make your own cloths out of fabric, or use tea-towels or scarves that can be enjoyed by the gift recipient or reused at a later date. Let's make an effort this season to not only give to one another, but to also give back to the environment.