Thursday, October 30, 2008

JJNN Thursday: Culture - 15

Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday October 30th, 2008. Today we will be talking about a thing called a furoshiki.

After world world two the use of the plastic bag in Japan became widespread. It was only after the war that it could be seen and used in every day life. Before WWII the Japanese used something totally different to carry around things. It is something very simple, but it something that is so economical and environmentally that I wish that it was in every day use today. The thing that the Japanese used was called a furoshiki. You can see a picture of one below.

Yep, you're right. That is just a piece of cloth. A simple every day piece of cloth. But, it is what the Japanese figured out to do with this cloth that makes it so great. They found so many different ways to tie the cloth so that it can be used to carry anything from big boxes to watermelons. They even sometimes make bags out of them. You can see pictures of some of these furoshiki creations below.

The name furoshiki means something like bath sheet. The is because a few hundred years ago in Japan no one really had a please to take a shower or a bath at their house. They would all have to go to public bath houses. When they did go to public bath houses they would wrap up everything they needed in their furoshiki. That is where the name comes from.

The use of furoshiki have gone well beyond that. Now people even wrap gifts in the furoshiki if it is for a special occasion. Also, people tend to wrap up their boxed lunches in furoshiki. That way they can use the furoshiki as a little table cloth while eating. It makes for an easy way to eat lunch that is also very clean.

Just as an example of how they tie these things take a look at the videos below.

Cool, huh?

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 風呂敷(ふろしき). It is pronounced furoshiki and means furoshiki. I hate to say it, but I use plastic bags to carry around my boxed lunch.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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