A variation of traditional Japanese cloth, tenugui textiles have been used in creative endeavors for centuries. Original tenugui date back to the Heian era, a period of cultural enlightenment between the years of 794 and 1192 A.D. Traditional Japanese practices like kano script, waka poetry, and works of literature like The Tale of Genji were also born during this time, making tenugui the product of a defining creative and cultural movement.
Though the colorful fabric was originally used at ceremonies and religious rituals, the slim cotton fabric has become a staple of Japanese daily life for its quick-drying abilities and versatile quality. Its modern graphic prints and colorful hues breathe new life into a centuries-old craft tradition, and its uses are limited only by your imagination.
It is no surprise, then, that tenugui textiles are commonly used in Japan to wrap everything from gifts to packed lunches. When wrapped, a colorful layer of tenugui lends both functionality and style, and can transform even the simplest package into a delightful treat. Try it yourself with our step-by-step guide to tenugui wrapping, adaptable to fit almost any shape.
Fold tenugui towel in half and lay flat on a smooth tabletop.
Place box on top, taking care to center it.
Tilt box slightly to the left so that it leans on a subtle diagonal, its points aligned with the corners of the tenugui towel.
Fold bottom right corner towards the base of the box; repeat with top left corner.
Taking the folded left corner, fold once again to cover top part of box. Repeat with bottom right corner.
Twist excess fabric at left endpoint and lay it flat over the box top; repeat on right side.
Tie loose ends in a knot over the top of the box.
Lay the tenugui textile flat against a smooth tabletop.
Lay bottle on its side at the halfway point of the tenugui. The bottle itself should be about two inches from the left hand side of the cloth.
Fold lower half upwards so that the tenugui covers the whole bottle.
Tuck snugly into the sides of the bottle, then fold bottom corner inwards until it reaches the bottle.
Fold whole left side over, covering the bottle entirely.
Fold right lower corner upwards, then fold the whole right side to the left, twisting so that it wraps around the entire bottle.
Tie at neck with string or ribbon.
WORDS BY MAGALI ROMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS SETTY