With the holidays nearly upon us, now is a good time to think about not only what we might like to give our friends and family, but how we will present these gifts. In Japan, the presentation of a gift is almost as important as the gift itself––beautiful wrapping conveys the care and thought you put into the gift as well as the respect and affection you have for the recipient.
We’re all familiar with wrapping paper, but a more traditional—and eco-friendly—option is fabric. You may have tried square furoshiki, but another Japanese method involves tenugui, a rectangular piece of cotton. Originally used as washcloths and head wraps and now often used as wall hangings, tenugui come in an array of patterns and colors, and they are incredibly versatile. Unlike wrapping paper, tenugui can be used again and again (and if you make a mistake, you can always start again, rather than wasting creased paper), and they are particularly helpful in wrapping round objects.
Ruri Kabashima Kippenbrock, the owner of Wuhao NYC, imports beautiful tenugui from all over Japan, and she has kindly shared some tenugui wrapping tips.
For the cleanest look, Ms. Kippenbrock recommends ironing your tenugui first. An easy way to start is by wrapping a rectangular-shaped object. Just fold one long side up, followed by the opposite side (the way you would if you were using paper—you don’t need to use tape, though) and then tuck the fabric in a little at the corners as you bring both short ends up and tie them in a loose knot. Then, you’ll want to trim any stray strings along the edge of the tenugui.
Once you’ve mastered the rectangular object, you might like to try wrapping two apples. Tie a knot in the middle of the tenugui, put an apple on each side of the knot, nestled in the folds of the fabric, and then twist each side and tie them together in another knot. If the ends of the tenugui are long, you can tuck each end into the sides of the knot to make a bow.
With tenugui wrapping, you will make a memorable impression with two gifts: your present and the beautiful cloth that surrounds it.
—- Reported by Kate Williamson
wuhao new york Inc.
225 W. 36th St., #604, New York, NY 10018
TEL: 212-231-8126 | www.wuhaonyc.com
Ms. Kippenbrock recommends using smaller patterns for small objects and saving large prints for bigger presents.
Fold the bottom six inches of a tenugui up around the bottom of a bottle and then roll the edges in.
Then, twist the tenugui around the bottle and secure the top of the twisted fabric with a decorative knot.
Special tenugui can be used to wrap money or gift cards, and others can even be folded into vegetables.