In Japanese gift giving, the gift is the least important component. As a matter of fact, the style, and ornate wrapping of the gift is the most important element in Japanese gift giving, as it represents an expression of the emotion that someone feels toward the person who is receiving the gift. Japanese gift wrapping, commonly known as Tsutsumi, utilizes cloth to wrap gifts in a distinctive fashion.
The characteristic of Tsutsumi wrapping which separates the Japanese style from American gift wrapping is the no-cut style. Whilst American wrapping entails cutting paper to allow a snug fit around the gift, Tsutsumi wrapping does not involve any cutting of cloth. Japanese use Furoshiki, formerly known as bath cloth, to wrap gifts for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. Square pieces of bath cloths were used to wrap together changes of clothes to carry to bath houses in Japan from the early 1600s to the late 1800s; since then, similar pieces of bath cloth have been used to wrap gifts. Moreover, in using Furoshiki to wrap gifts a green lifestyle is promoted, as Tsutsumi wrapping promotes recycling by utilizing used cloth.
Tsutsumi can range from basic to complex. The shape of the article that you are wrapping can also play a major role. For this example, we will use a simple square box.
First, it is important to use traditional Furoshiki cloth; however, if this is not easily available to you then any type of cloth will do. Make sure that the cloth is significantly larger than your gift.
Second, place the gift in the middle of the cloth. However, the shape of your gift and the shape of the cloth are very important when placing the gift in the cloth. For example, if your gift is in the shape of a square and the cloth is in the shape of a rectangle, place the gift in the middle with the pointed corners of the cloth on each side of the box in the shape of a diamond around the gift.
Next, once your gift has been placed, take two pieces of cloth on opposite sides of the gift and place them on the top of the gift, as far in the middle as the cloth will allow. Make sure that the cloth is secure in this step.
Finally, take the remaining two pieces of cloth and pull them taut over the two pieces of cloth which have already been laid on top of the gift. Tie the final two pieces of cloth tightly over the top of the gift. This is where the wrapping portion can get creative. You can simply tie a simple two-strand knot, or you can use any type of creative knot at this point.
The more that you practice Tsutsumi wrapping, the better you will become; however, always remember to remain creative and to wrap the packages neatly.