Today’s blog is all about Japanese Art of Wrapping.
Tsutsumu is translated as “to wrap”; if you “tsutsumu a present”, you are “wrapping a present”. In this context, nothing about “tsutsumu” seems Japanese. When something is “wrapped” in English, it is a form of decor to give it more suitable presentation for a surprising, “wow” factor. However, in Japanese, when something is “wrapped”, it is out of omoiyari, courteous consideration, and omotenashi, generous thoughtfulness, for those receiving the wrapped item. The recipient is thankful to receive such item under good care. A mutual understanding is created between the sender and recipient.
In Japan, “wrapping” is not just for presents; It can be for food you are taking home for yourself. The sales clerk would ask, “What may I ‘wrap’ for you?” as a humble way to ask, “What you would like to take home?”
Every layer of wrapping has logic to it in order to take good care of the wrapped item. If the wrapped item is, for example, glass, it may be wrapped in bubble-wrap, next in thin wrapping paper, then placed in a paulownia box with shredded paper stuffing, and finally wrapped in wrapping paper with hint of the season. All layers are necessary for security and aesthetics. What seems like over-wrapping is actually minimal wrapping if the “wrapped” item reaches the recipient safely in an enjoyable and presentable form.
Tstutsumu or “wrapping” something itself is considered as a courteous and thoughtful gesture as you are handling the “wrapped” item with care, respect and for presentation. Knowing this may change the way you receive your next “wrapped” Japanese item.
**More articles on tsutsumu to follow