A fukusa is made with silk or crepe in single or double layer and either plain or with embroidery of good omens. A ceremonial square piece of silk cloth used to wrap things (called tsutsumi-fukusa) or to cover over gift (kake-fukusa). Following is the explanation in detail.
A piece of silk cloth of about 27.27cm x 28.79cm in size to wipe and clean tea utensils and to be used with tea cups and other wares at a tea ceremony. Called fukusa.
It is soft silk without starching.
It is a prefix to indicate informality.
A fukusa is a square piece of cloth to wrap or cover a gift of money. Small fukusa is written in different Chinese characters.
A fukusa is originally a furoshiki (wrapping cloth) to cover a box in which precious things are stored. This furoshiki came to be used to prevent gifts from becoming dirty during transportation or faded by sun and changed from a single cloth to be a lined silk cloth with tassels called kamebusa (a turtle-shaped knot). It came to be used with hirobuta (a black-lacquered tray) by courtesy and to show care to send monetary gifts for events of congratulations and condolences.
A fukusa prevents damage to mizuhiki (decorative Japanese cord made from twisted paper) of a noshi envelope or prevents the envelope from wrinkling, and shows respect for the receiver's feeling and ritual events as well as empathy to share joy and sadness. It is also said to be a form of sensitive caring to enclose the gift with a noshi envelope and wrap it with fukusa.
Forms of Fukusa
In general, a fukusa is a piece of square cloth of crepe or silk smaller than a furoshiki and used to wrap smaller things than a furoshiki. Only a fukusa which is purple is used for gifts for both congratulations and condolences. A fukusa may have a string and buckle in a corner.
Purpose of Use
Today a fukusa is used to wrap noshi envelope (shugibukuro [special envelope for momentary gifts] or bushugibukuro [special envelope for momentary gifts as condolences] at ceremonial occasions.
Varieties of Fukusa
- A silk furoshiki with kamebusa and a black-lacquered tray.
Fukusa (in different Chinese characters)
- A fukusa which is smaller than a normal fukusa.
Fukusa with a board
Fukusa (in different Chinese characters)
- Also called koburoshiki (a small furoshiki) or tefukusa.
- A wallet-like fukusa, as below.
Kinpufukusa (a fukusa to wrap money)
Hasamifukusa (a tucking fukusa)
Fukusa with a Board
Open the fukusa in front of the receiver and take out the kinpu (envelope for monetary gifts), and place it on the board removed from the fukusa (as a replacement of a tray), then offer it to the receiver. The kinpu has to be placed in the right direction to the receiver (with the bottom of kinpu to the receiver) and has to be slid on the board to be offered.
Congratulations and Condolences
The board of a fukusa is different in color on each side so that it can be used both for congratulations and condolences. Red side is used for congratulations and green for condolences.
A Fukusa without a Board
Fold the fukusa in place of the board and offer the kinpu on it.
Offer the kinpu on the fukusa as in the case of fukusa without a board.
At Diet a fukusa is used to wrap the emperor's shosho (imperial edict).
The most common case you see a fukusa at Diet is dissolution of the House of Representatives. The emperor's dissolution rescript is carried to the chairman of House of Representative by the secretary-general, wrapped in a purple fukusa on a black lacquered tray.
How to Wrap
When wrapping a noshi envelope, wrap migimae (left side tucked under the right) for congratulations such as wedding, and wrap hidarimae (right side tucked under the left) for sad occasions such as funeral.
How to Wrap a Shugibukuro
- Place the shugibukuro in the center a little to the left of fukusa, and fold the left corner, then up, bottom, and finally the right corners to the back (you will see small triangles in the upper left and lower left).
How to Wrap a Bushugibukuro
- Place the bushugibukuro in the center a little to the right of fukusa, and fold the right corner, then bottom, up, and the left corners to the back (you will see small triangles in the upper right and lower right).
- Red, shu-iro (empire red), dark red
- Green, indigo blue, gray