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About the Tenugui

About the Japanese Tenugui

Tenugui Wrapping Techniques
TENUGUI, a piece of dyed cotton cloth, has always been an essential tool for the Japanese. Hand cloths are a traditional Japanese craft that lives on today.
They are made one at a time using extremely refined skills under a completely divided labor system that involves master craftsmen.

Not only was it used as a wiping tool but as a towel or a handkerchief. It was also used as a bandage and a handwear in the other days. On the other hand, since it was possible to dye various graphic designs on the TENUGUI, it also came to be used in the place of a greeting card or a business card. And recently, people have found even more ways to use it, from place mats to tapestry, for decorating their homes, and the young wear them like a scarf or a bandana. "Cute isn't it?"How to use this piece of cotton cloth (33cm×90cm) is up to you!

About the Tenugui

These hand cloths are the product of sophisticated techniques that have been passed down as a piece of popular culture from the Edo period (1603~1867), Meiji, aisho and Showa periods down to the present days. "TENUGUI"are dyed using a method called "pour dying" or Sosogizome (そそぎ染め) in Japanese.* A sketch craftsman draws the under-drawing on top of which the pattern craftsman carves the pattern. The final pattern is placed on a bleached cotton cloths, pasted, and then the dye is poured over it. The starch pasted on the freshly hand dyed cloth is washed off with water, and then the cloth is dried under the sun. Once it is dry, the process is complete. It's a labor-intensive process, but it is the only way the beauty of traditional hand cloths can continue today.

Although these"pour dyed" hand cloths do fade over time, they have a special beauty which comes out as they get softer with each washing.

Incidentally, the edges are deliberately left without a seam after being cut, which means this type of bleached cloth dries quicker, collecting less dust, and is therefore more hygienic. This makes these hand cloths ideal for the Japanese climate, with its high temperatures and humidity. They can be used for almost any purpose.

* Some tenugui in the Wafuka line have partial printing.
Taking Care of Your Tenugui
You can use a washing machine but refrain from using bleach as it may discolor the Tenugui. New Tenuguis may have some left residual dye, so it's best to wash seperately the first few times. Handwashing with water is sufficient for most uses and will make your Tenugui last longer.
After washing, lightly strech out any creases and dry away from direct sunlight to prevent discoloration. Ironing is not necessary.
The edges of the Tenugui are deliberately left without a seam for better hygene and quick drying. However, you may find that the edges on a new Tenugui to fray a little after washing. If so you should trim the loose threads with a pair of scissors. The fraying should stop after use as the fabric will tend to tighten a little.
About the Japanese Tenugui