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Ellen’s tying knots, Japan style!

Ellen's Furoski wrap

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Hi, this is Ellen again!

Sustainable wrapping may seem like a recent trend, but in Japan, the art of furoshiki has been around since the Nara period (around 710 B.C). Pronounced foo-roo-she-kee, furoshiki involves wrapping gifts using cloth or fabric instead of traditional wrapping paper. The fabric options include cotton, silk, and nylon with numerous available designs.

In the Nara period, the cloth was known as ‘tsutsumi’ meaning ‘present’ or ‘package’ and was frequently used to wrap important treasures and valuables found in Japanese temples. Moving to the Muromachi period (1136-1573), guests in bathhouses utilised furoshiki to wrap their kimonos, preventing confusion between their garments. Family crests and emblems were also often used to distinguish personal items. As guests fried off after bathing, they stood on the fabric, leading to the translation ‘bath spread’: ‘furo’ + ‘shiki’ = ‘bath’ + ‘spread’.

With advancements in technology during the 20th-century, the sewing machine made mass production possible. It became a versatile item with more patterns available, used for carrying tools, transporting merchandise (or lunch!) as well as serving as travel or gift-wrap.

Although in recent years its popularity declined as people more often use wrapping paper, suitcases and handbags, the recent surge in eco-friendly products has revitalised interest in furoshiki around the world.

In 2006, Japanese Minister of the Environment Yuriko Koike promoted furoshiki cloth to raise environmental awareness and reduce plastic usage. Furoshiki is known for being environmentally friendly, convenient, economical, versatile, and thoughtful.


In Japan, furoshiki is considered an art form, offering the flexibility to create intricate or simple wraps. Furoshiki can be reused as a fashionable headscarf, tablecloth or even a resizable pouch. Lush Cosmetics even offers a furoshiki service to gift-wrap!

Excitingly, at our upcoming Japan Event on Sunday 18th February, you’ll have the chance to create your own furoshiki fabric designs. Becky’s Unique Sewing Boutique has kindly donated fabulous scrap fabrics for us to use during the event, where we’ll explore Japanese traditions through creative crafts and games, including furoshiki. Join us in the morning or afternoon (10-12 or 1-3) to welcome in the New Year with the spirit of Japan and UK Unplugged!

Have you discovered The Unplugged Subscription service? Delivered monthly, UK Unplugged’s boxes are your gateway to screen-free, eco-friendly explorations and adventures. Both furoshiki and our Unplugged Boxes embody the essence of gifts that keep on giving.


We look forward to seeing you there!



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UK Unplugged began in 2019 as a local community group dedicated to helping local parents and carers balance their family’s time on and off screens.

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