The Art Of Gift Wrapping - Furoshiki, Tsutsumi, and Other Techniques

In gift wrapping, there are no better artists than the Japanese. To them, gift wrapping has special meaning. Often, the actual wrapping means as much as the gift inside. The Japanese look at a sheet of paper as “the mirror of the soul.” They combine the elements of yin and yang – rustic and elegant, modern and ancient, the earthy and the sublime. Wrapping a gift is “wrapping the heart.” The opening of the gift is as large a ritual as the wrapping. The Japanese use many intricate techniques, such as pleats, facing to the left to signify celebration, and incorporating hinges, flaps and different cuts to give a hint of what is inside.

Furoshiki – Wrapping In Fabric

One Japanese gift wrapping technique that makes a lot of sense is Furoshiki. The premise is this – using a large piece of fabric for wrapping gifts is good for the ecology because there is no paper waste. It is estimated that 50,000 trees are cut down to make Christmas wrapping paper each year. This is senseless, because this paper is almost always discarded. Using fabric to wrap gifts means that the fabric can be reused for a sewing project, thus reducing this harmful waste to resources. The video Recycle Now takes you through the Japanese art of Furoshiki.

Tsutsumi – Wrapping In Paper And Fabric

Japanese history is rich in the traditions of gift wrapping. One thing that makes it unique is the fact that the paper or fabric is never cut, but folded, pleated and tied to complete the wrapping. In ancient Japan, paper was believed to be a god, so cutting was therefore prohibited.
Gift wrapping in this style means not to conceal an object, but to enhance its shape and give the recipient some idea of what is contained. The theories and rituals behind this type of wrapping make interesting study, but are beyond the scope of this article. You can see different methods of wrapping here.

What The Experts Say

Experts advise that you use what is available when gift wrapping. Whether you go for the traditional gift wrapping or wish to try the Japanese art of Furoshiki, remember that the cost to the environment depends largely on your choice of materials. If you cringe like I do on Christmas Day watching huge piles of gift wrapping being torn off, ribbons snapped apart, and sack after sack filled with discarded Christmas wrapping, then make changes in how you do things.

In research for this article, I came across a lady who uses everyday items for gift wrapping. She uses glossy images from magazines and makes wrapping paper and totes. She suggests that you use a sheet from the financial section to wrap a gift for an investor. Use the want ads for wrapping a gift for a grad. Above all else, be creative and aware of the environmental impact you make. Remember the legacy you wish to leave for your grandchildren!

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects and excels in research.