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Japan Part 1: Wrapped Up

14 January 2009

Image Source: Furoshiki Lesson Book

I know I have been promising to blog about our trip to Japan for a while now. We spent a month there in May/June last year and I absolutely loved it. I loved everything about the country, the culture and the people. It seems like the design aesthetic of simplistic beauty is something that is an inate part of who the Japanese are. It infuses everything from the obvious art and design to their food, gardens and social structure. Everything is in harmony - considered and balanced.

I have over 1600 photos and so much that I want to share with you that I have found it hard to start. But here goes...

The Japanese have a long tradition of beautiful gift wrapping. Traditionally they use furoshiki, which are folded and tied squares of fabric. Furoshiki are also used to make things as diverse as shopping bags, clothing, and book covers. I bought this great book: Furoshiki Lesson, and although the cover title is the only thing in English, it has very clear diagramatic instructions for a wide range of wonderful bags and wrappings.

Image Source (above): personal photos taken of Furoshiki Lesson Book

There is a huge array of beautiful furoshiki in the shops and department stores have big sections devoted to them. The ones in my photos above and below cost about AUS$5 each, which is what you pay for a nice sheet of wrapping paper these days. It's a wonderful, stylish and eco-friendly way to wrap. Check out this website for more info, instructions, history and a shop. They have a great links page too.

The coasters in the image above are from the fabulous New York Bar at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, which was featured in one of my fave movies: Lost in Translation. The bar is a must on your itinerary if you visit Tokyo.

The amazing stationery shops in Japan (more on these in another post) also have a big selection of beautifully designed paper bags which are handy for many things including putting little gifts in. Below are just a few of my purchases.