| The Japanese wrapping cloth or “furoshiki” and the Japanese room divider called the “noren” are two great examples of ancient Japanese innovation and creativity that are not only practical in use, but beautiful in appearance. The “furoshiki” and “noren” are both distinctly Japanese in origin and have survived hundreds of years of change and continue to exist in our modern society because of their practicality and beauty.
The “furoshiki” is thought to have become a staple in Japanese household during the “Edo Period” (1600’s-1800’s) when communal bathhouses were a popular alternative for the local townsfolk to enjoy a hot soak with family and friends. The bath goers would wrap their change of clothes in a large square fabric bundle and tie up the loose ends in a bow or knot and carry their belongings using the knot as a handle. The Japanese bath is called “ofuro” and the name “furoshiki” is a combination of the word for bath and the word “shiki”, which means covering cloth. Originally they were made from a heavy cotton fabric, similar to canvas, that would be decorated in various designs. As the furoshiki became a popular method of wrapping and delivering gifts or foodstuffs contained in bento boxes, the fabrics used for the furoshiki started to include fine silks, delicate satins and lightweight cotton. Depending on the occasion, the colors of the furoshiki can range from solid black for funerals, to brightly patterned or hand painted beautiful silken works of art.
Careful thought is given in the choice of furoshiki with which to wrap a special gift. There are even books and websites that are devoted to the artful tying of the fabric to make the presentation extra special. Imagine the delight of your friends and family when you present them with a gift that is wrapped in a lovely furoshiki and essentially give them two gifts in one! In Japan, the use of the furoshiki is making a popular comeback as the citizens realize that by using the reusable furoshiki, they are contributing to the green movement and becoming more eco-friendly.
At Mrs. Lins Kitchen, we have gathered some of the most versatile and beautiful designs of furoshiki from Japan that are perfect for use in any occasion. The Golden Temple Black Furoshiki is a wonderful scene of a Japanese geisha on a journey, while the Snow Capped Village Furoshiki is a reproduction of a famous wood block print by the artist Hiroshige and is quite stunning in its use of shadows and light to create a beautiful winter wonderland.
The “noren” is a traditional Japanese fabric room divider cloth that depending on its purpose, will be seen hanging both outside and inside Japanese homes and businesses. When the “noren” is used for business, it is typically made of heavy canvas or cotton fabric that is often emblazoned with the name of the business and the phone number somewhere on the fabric print. The “noren” is hung outside of a place of business in front of the entryway to signify to the clientele that the shop is open for business. The “noren” is the first thing that comes out to start the business day and when it is taken in, it means that the shop is closed. The “noren” is mostly used at the more traditional Japanese businesses, but because they catch the patron’s eyes- they are also used to declare a “sale” or “special event” when designed in red for modern businesses as well.
In private Japanese homes, the “noren” is used as a room divider. Most commonly used in the entranceway to a kitchen or bathroom, the noren allows for the homeowner to distinguish the rooms without the use of a heavy, obtrusive door. The choice of “noren” in the home is entirely up to personal taste because these dividing fabrics are available in a multitude of designs and are very affordable. They can also be changed to reflect the season or the mood you wish to set. At Mrs. Lins Kitchen, we carry both the short, casual styles and the longer, more elegant styles of “noren”. Some of the “noren” depict famous lucky symbols such as the lucky cat “maneki neko” with the “hichifukujin” or seven lucky gods as in the Lucky Cats with Lucky Gods noren. Other popular styles are the woodblock prints of famous “sumo” wrestlers, and famous “geisha” girls. You might want to consider the Sumo Wrestler noren or Fanning Woman noren if you are a fan of these aspects of Japanese culture. The famous scenic “noren” we carry include reproductions of woodblock prints made famous by the artist Hokusai and include the beautiful depictions of the majestic Mt. Fuji on A Mild Breeze On A Fine Day noren or the powerful magnitude of the forceful waves captured on Tidal Wave Illustration noren. If you wish to give the room an “oriental ambience” without overwhelming the decor, you might consider choosing the simple Bamboo Leaves noren or the Cascading Cherry Blossoms noren. The Black and White Zen noren will instantly transform your space into a tranquil zone.
As you browse through our many choices, you should consider other great uses for the versatile “noren”. Perfect as a room divider, a single noren or two or three together are also very effective as window valances or as a tapestry hanging from a rod. The possibilities are many and you will find that the use of a “noren” in your decor will instantly add a touch of Asia to your space for a very inexpensive price.
While most of us are familiar with the modern contributions of the Japanese innovative mind through our “Wii” or “Sony Playstation” and our dependable Toyotas and Hondas, it is fun to discover that their propensity for great design and practical yet handsome pieces comes from a long established history that include the “furoshiki” and the “noren”.
|| OUR 2010 NEWSLETTERS
Japanese Furoshiki and Noren
The Magnificent of Mount Fuji
MAY WE SUGGEST:
Snow Capped Village- Hiroshige Furoshiki (5813)
Tokaido Okazaki Bridge Furoshiki (5814)
Sumo Wrestler (5987)