Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Will Miss #496 - furoshiki

A personalized furoshiki, given to me by a student as a goodbye gift. The paper is instructions on how to tie this beautiful cloth.

I remember watching cartoons when I was a kid which showed a hobo walking around with his bindle tied to a stick. The hobo, as someone who lacked funds, used this little folded up bit of cloth to carry his possessions. This was back in the days before we could buy cheap backpacks and there were plastic bags being tossed in our faces every time we made a purchase. 

A furoshiki, is an elegant form of a bindle, though it is usually used to wrap and carry boxes (especially bento) or as a lovely gift-wrappings. I received two sets of personalized chopsticks from what must have been expensive shops wrapped in furoshik, as well as a furoshiki with my name on it in Japanese and I'm grateful for these memorable items. These were my last experiences in Japan with these bits of cloth, but my first ones came when office ladies at my former company would use these to carry their lunches, though more often than not, people just opted for a plastic bag. On those rare occasions that I did see these, they reminded me that Japanese culture was once not only thrifty, but also that there were these ways of doing things which were beautifully executed and taught through generations. They did this not only for special things like gifts, but also just for their own daily use. It reflected how old and developed Japanese culture is as well as their well-known attention to detail.

I'll miss seeing furoshiki, both as wrapping as in gift stores, but especially because of what their use said about Japanese culture.