Furoshiki are square pieces of fabric, usually made out of cotton or silk. The literal translation is "bath spread." Traditionally, furoshiki were emblazoned with the family crest of the owner, and they would wrap their belongings in the cloth that they would bring to and from the bathhouse.
To me, furoshiki are reminiscent of a bindle, which is often seen in old American illustrations of people walking down railroads. But while bindles are associated with transient people, who likely needed to carry items while they traveled long distances, furoshiki typically held items over short distances by high-ranking officials – serving as both a receptacle to carry items but also as an identifier for its owner.
Furoshiki are now used by people from all walks of life and are part of Japanese popular culture. They are decorated with contemporary graphics and regardless of the material of the fabric, you will notice that there is always special care taken in its edges, sewn meticulously without any fraying. While they are still used to carry items (most commonly, you will see people wrap their bentos in furoshiki), they have become popular as a type of gift wrap.
There are many elaborate wrapping techniques for furoshiki, but this week I'll introduce two that were easy enough for me, and I hope for you. Follow along here as I show you how to wrap a bottle with a furoshiki. In this example, I've used a 720ml sake bottle with a 20" x 20" furoshiki. Learn how to make a bag with a larger furoshiki here.
1. Flip the furoshiki over so you've got the reverse side facing up.
2. Place the bottle in the middle of the furoshiki.
3. Tie a double knot over the bottle, lengthwise.
4. Bring the side flaps over and pull it tightly with a twist only around the waist of the bottle.
(Twist only, no knot!)
Swivel the bottle around while keeping the twist tight.
5. Keep the ears tight around the bottle and knot on the reverse side at the nape of the neck of the bottle.
6. Finally, tuck in the remainder of the cloth into band along the knot.
7. Make some final touches to clean it up by to nipping and tucking for a tighter look. Wrapping with furoshiki is super forgiving because of this step (you can adjust later, unlike wrapping with paper).
Final front view:
Now you are a furoshiki bottle wrapping pro!