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Developing language and culture using furoshiki

Students learn about the history and vocabulary of furoshiki, and then try wrapping various objects.

What is Furoshiki?

A square cloth that came into use over 1,000 years ago is once more being used, this time as a tool to combat global warming. Called furoshiki, these cloths can be used to wrap and carry things of any shape and can be transformed into purses or handbags. Compact when folded, and used repeatedly, the furoshiki is a perfect example of the three Rs of environmental conservation: reduce, reuse, and recycle. More than just a way to wrap up your belongings, the furoshiki epitomizes the Japanese tradition of gift wrapping.

Handout (Word 3988KB)
Handout (PDF 420KB)

Step 1: Thinking about '包む' (wrapping)


  • どんなときにつつみますか。
  • どんなものをつつみますか。
  • どんな気持ちでつつみますか。

Step 2: Learning about ふろしき

Derivation of Furoshiki

=a bath

History of Furoshiki

Nara Era(710~794年)

A piece of cloth, such as what we now call furoshiki, was used more than 1300 years ago. At that time, the word “furoshiki” didn’t exist.

Muromachi Era(1338~1573年)

A steam bath was developed. The word “furoshiki” was born.

Edo Era (1603~1867年)

People made frequent use of public bathhouses. When they went to a bathhouse, they wrapped and carried their towels and washbasin in furoshiki.

Genroku Era (1688~1704年)

Trade was developed and traders used furoshiki to carry their products.

Meiji Era (1868~1912年)

Many people came to use furoshiki frequently. They carried a variety of things such as clothes, books, gifts with furoshiki.

Showa Era (1926~1989年)

With the arrival of Western-style paper bags, the use of furoshiki declined.

Patterns of Furoshiki


Students choose images of lucky animals and plants.


The following plants and animals are considered auspicious by the Japanese. Many of these concepts came
たい because the sound appears in the word ‘medetai’
かめ because it has a long life
つる because it has a long life
まつ because it is evergreen and has a long life
うめ because it is a sturdy plant (China symbolic of patience purity)
たけ because it a strong plant which grows straight and tall very quickly

Step 3: Hands on wrapping with ふろしき

Let’s try!

Web Links

Wrapping for books, bottles, chocolates, and making a bag


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