> The Japanese wrapping cloth known as the furoshiki is said to have been first used in the Muromachi Period(1392-1573), when people spread it out in place of a bath mat or wrapped one’s clothes with it. (http://www.env.go.jp/en/focus/060403.html)
Here’s a great idea for giving gifts this Christmas (or at any other time!) – wrap them in a traditional Japanese cloth. As a rough guess at the size, I’d say the one in the pictures is about 2 1/2 feet or 70cm square, you can buy them at various places on the web, but you could also buy some nicely patterned cloth and make your own.
If you want to see the Japanese style cloths, even though it’s not in English, [this page has some really nice pictures](http://furoshiki.homepage.jp/index.html).
The Japanese governernment has reintroduced use of this interesting item as part of an environmental drive – they even recommend [several folding patterns](http://www.env.go.jp/en/focus/attach/060403-5.html) [PDF](http://www.env.go.jp/en/focus/attach/060403-5.pdf).
* [Furoshiki Folding Patterns (PDF)](http://www.env.go.jp/en/focus/attach/060403-5.pdf)
* [Furoshiki on Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furoshiki) – it’s a bit short on information unfortunately.