Year One: Almost a Wrap

In three weeks, we head back to America for our summer leave, finishing up our first year, here in Tokyo.  While technically not quite a year, the time sure has flown by!  I can’t believe how much we’ve managed to squeeze into our first ten months in Japan, and am excited about what we’ve planned for the next year.

That being said, I’m just as thrilled to head back to the States and see many of our friends and family.  We miss them all very much.  And just as much as we miss being able to visit them in person, we miss the proximity of being on the same continent, which enables you to do little things like chat on the phone while taking a walk or after the kids go to bed, instead of having to carefully check a thirteen-hour time zone difference or worry about international roaming charges!

So I’m starting to get us organized and packed up for eight weeks away from Japan and in a couple of different locations in America {yes, that means lists upon lists ~ this is me, after all!}  Top on my To Do list in the past few weeks has been to gather up some special things from Japan to bring to those people we will get to see while home.

One of the many things I’ve adored about the Japanese is their love of beautiful wrapping.  It’s everywhere.  If you buy something in any store, it will never simply be put into a bag; at the very least it will be carefully wrapped in some pretty paper and then placed into a bag and sealed shut with a sticker or tape bearing the store’s logo.  But I’ve often watched women in stores debate the perfect ribbon to coordinate with a piece of paper to purchase to gift wrap a present, or stood and watched professional gift wrappers work their magic.  It’s truly an art form here, and I’m in heaven.

And I’ve been a busy gal, here in wrapping heaven!

 There are three styles of gift wrapping I’ve adopted since living in Tokyo and I wanted to share them with you.

The first isn’t terribly different from the gift bags we have in America.  However, I’ve been amazed at the sheer volume of cellophane bags available in Tokyo, and the ease with which one can find them.  There are entire stores filled with bags of every single dimension, along with bolts of ribbon and papers with which to line them, and you can also easily find bags at the Hyaku-en shoppu {sort of the Japanese equivalent of a Dollar Store}.  These bags are used for everything from awkward-sized gifts to individually packaging treats sent into school for birthdays.

 For items in boxes or easily wrapped up in a traditional manner, I used scraps of washi from craft projects I’ve done throughout the year.  I love these beautiful designed papers and figure I may as well use them as often as possible so I can rationalize buying more!  The colors are so rich, and the paper is crisp, thick and ideal for wrapping.  You may even recognize a few of the papers from the washi ball project here.

This one is my favorite paper that I just found on my paper-making trip to Ogawamachi and couldn’t wait to use!  I love the depth of the blues and the hint of gold in the design.

 The most traditional of all the wrapping styles I used is furoshiki which is a practice that has been around for hundreds of years.  There are many ways to wrap a furoshiki and tons of stores all over Japan sell these beautiful cloths in all sorts of gorgeous patterns.  Again, this is an ideal wrapping method for irregularly sized items, and many of the tying techniques allow you to also easily carry the package.

Here’s a basic how to for the smallest packages ~

I started with the gift and a small cloth

Centered the object on the cloth

Then I wrapped one end over the item and tucked it under and did the same with the other side.

Then you simply pick up each “tail” and tie in a square knot.

And here’s the finished product with a name sticker.  I especially like the contrasting print on the other side of the fabric peeking through the ties.   The best part, of course, is that this is entirely eco-friendly and re-usable over and over again!

The countdown to the airport has definitely begun!

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One Response to Year One: Almost a Wrap

  1. Wendy says:

    What an amazing adventure you’re having. Love this gift wrapping, it really is beautiful.

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