Japanese Wrap

My husband came back from a business trip to Japan today 24 June and with him came an array of business gifts from his Japanese hosts. Of course they were all beautifully wrapped in that precise fantastically folded way  for which the Japanese are famous. You know what I am talking about  – a wrap that appears to start on an angle, has precision folds, uses very little tape and and is finished with a signature sticker.

Th gift was wine from the Nagasawa Winery, which as it happens has a fabulous history and, would you believe it , a direct connection to the establishment of wine growing in the Napa Valley – get out – it’s true. Kanaye Nagasawa  (1852-1934) was a prominent Californian wine maker and the first Japanese national to live permanently in the United States. He took over the wine growing estate of Thomas Lake Harris’ Fountaingrove estate, producing wines that earned him international acclaim. The distinctive round barn he constructed at Fountaingrove remains a landmark in Sonoma County. 

I do love the Japanese wrap look and need to learn more. Of course, there is a whole history culture and technical base around Japanese gift wrapping such that I could wrap and learn everyday and still not make a dent in it. I am not daunted. I started with the pleated look and once I mastered it, used it to wow effect.

I have decided to move onto some other looks including the box  wrap and then onto furoshiki – the art of fabric wrapping. Furoshiki embraces the philosophy of eco friendly living by giving one object many uses by folding and tying the cloth in different ways. I’ve pencilled my Furoshiki focus in for July – so stay tuned.

No today it’s all about the box. Many of you would have seen the fantastic Youtube video of wonder wrapper at the Takashimaya Department Store, where boxes are wrapped at warp speed. Well clearly some of you have because it’s been viewed upward of 13.8 million times. I love watching it. It transfixes me as it sets the bench mark for how quickly and precisely I will wrap boxes – though it must be noted it involves wrapping exactly the same box with exactly the same piece of exactly weighted paper over and over again.

My other absolutely favourite site for all things Japanese wrapping is from Shiho a designer and craft guru living in Hawaii who’s known for incorporating traditional Japanese sensibilities into modern urban designs. She creates wedding and party designs, window displays and in-store visual merchandising, as well as custom gift wraps packages for individual and corporate clients. I love her digital presence and am addicted to the Shiho Facebook page.

Beautiful pleated wrapping from Shiho

So off I went to give it a go at speed and I soon dropped the at speed aspiration. As you would expect with Japanese wrapping, it’s all about the placement and the folds. I wrapped and rewrapped a box of Japanese biscuits that were also a business gift to my husband and quickly reneged on my self righteous aim of not using the store wrapping as a template. So I wrapped away and had some degree of success. I will keep the look for firstly, rectangular prisms of about 10cm in depth and secondly, just the right weight and textured paper. Then….it’s all about speed. 


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