Kyoto Kakefuda, founded in 1925, is a long-established dyehouse in Shijyo Horikawa, Kyoto. Since its beginning, the store has been known as a custom order specialty store making the silk “furoshiki” wrapping cloth and the “fukusa” wrapping cloth which traditionally has a family crest and is passed from one generation to the next.
Hidetaka Kakefuda, upon succeeding as head of the family business, undertook the design and production of the cotton furoshiki used as a complementary gift for the name-taking ceremony of Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII, a famous kabuki actor. He was so impressed with the practicality and usefulness of the cotton furoshiki that the following year, he announced his newly designed line of cotton furoshiki with traditional Japanese patterns which is designed off the shelf for more casual use. Aligned with his new line, the store changed its name to Kyoto Kakefuda and created a special logo for the cotton furoshiki, whose design took inspiration from his family crest.
Now that most design and manufacturing is split between different companies, a specialty store that undertakes the whole process of design, pattern making, dyeing, cutting, finishing and retailing under one brand has become rare and treasured. Despite the store's long established history, Kakefuda is also flexible and open to new ideas, and is pioneering a new direction away from the other established stores reluctant to change.
Hidetaka kakefuda is the third line of the Kyoto Kakefuda, a dye house which specializes in made to order “Furoshiki”, wrapping cloth. Mr. Kakefuda was born in 1977 in Kyoto. He entered Kyoto City University of Arts in 1996, majoring initially in Sculpture, later changing to Conceptual and Media Art. He started helping the family business while still a university student. After seeing the family crest book handed down in his family, he took a strong interest in traditional patterns and succeeded to the family business upon his graduation.
In 2004, Mr. Kakefuda undertook the design and production of the cotton furoshiki to be used as a complementary gift for the name-taking ceremony of Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII. With this as a beginning, the following year he announced his new line of cotton furoshiki with Japanese traditional patterns such as Karakusa and Kamekou. “I wanted create furoshiki that everybody can use casually as a start”, Mr. Kakufuda says in a relaxed tone. Since 2005, he continues to produce new types of furoshiki based on Japanese traditional patterns, a style sometimes referred to as “Japanese Modern”.
The furoshiki (wrapping cloths) made in the Izumo, Matsue and Yonago areas of Shimane Prefecture are designated as traditional hometown handicraft.
Before the Meiji period, there were aizome indigo dyers across the nation, however, around 1917 (Meiji 40), chemical dyeing had become popular. By 1950, of the 59 tsutsugaki aizome dyers in Izumo, only 4 remained. Today, only one tsutsugaki aizome dyer remains in Nagata, which is recognized by the prefecture as an intangible cultural asset.
Tsutsugaki aizome with a family crest were used as trousseau items up untilthe Taisho period. Furoshiki wrapping cloths were also included in trousseaus.
Making the tsutsugaki aizome requires repetition in dyeing. During the dyeing process, the patterns on the aizome are protected by paste, which is later washed off in the Takase River.
Born in 1964, Genta Kanayama is a designer in various fields such as product design including “Furoshiki Bag,” in which furoshiki (a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth) and a bag are combined together, “DUENDE Tissue Case Stand,” which is a standing tissue paper holder, and other sundry goods, furniture and housing equipment as well as graphic design and space design. He established genta design co., ltd. with Chie Kanayama in 2004.
Especially interesting is that he wrote about episodes of developing Furoshiki Bag in Chie Kanayama’s blog. According to the blog, he hit upon this idea when he got an order to design something nice for bringing back a large lunchbox that is usually delivered at a Buddhist memorial service in the Shikoku region, and which is normally wrapped with furoshiki cloth. Then he finally reached the idea to create a new type of furoshiki that doesn’t look like furoshiki.
The word for wrapping in Japanese is 'tsutsumu' and has the kanji character '包', which is derived from a Chinese pictogram of a pregnant woman with a baby inside her. Therefore, the word 'tsutsumu' carries the sense of tender motherhood.
In Japan, tsutsumu will remind you of furoshiki, the cloth for wrapping things. One furoshiki cloth can freely be used to wrap many things of varying shapes. It gives a feeling of flexible softness and tenderness.
包 can also be read as 'kurumu'. You could say 'be tsutsumu-ed in a fog' but never 'be kurumu-ed in a fog'. The word 'kurumu' is used mainly in the sense of 'wrapping your belongings'. Kurumu also means 'wrapping like rolling' and is matched with furoshiki and other cloths.
Following Japanese tradition, you can carry and give a gift 'tsutsumu-ed' in wrapping paper and 'kurumu-ed' in furoshiki; such a gift would be wrapped in double tenderness.
Furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) was the most popular gift in good old days. How long is it since we, the Japanese people, gave up using this all-round and multi-use wrapping cloth, which you can find nowhere else in the world? When you bring a gift to somebody, isn’t it far better to unwrap the furoshiki in front of him/her and take out the gift smoothly than take it out of a paper bag rustling and crinkling? It is also very sophisticated to hand the gift as it is wrapped in furoshiki. In this case, selecting a nice furoshiki is very important. Then why not visit Erisho at Nikaimachi in Himeji City, Hyogo Pref.? There you will find stylish furoshikis at reasonable prices. Charm of Japanese tradition and free and fun-loving modern senses are well combined in the design of furoshikis at Erisho. Furoshiki is a gift item of an adult who goes one step ahead of others.