Tenugui (てぬぐい)

It was Valentine’s Day recently.  I’d ordered something for my husband which didn’t arrive in time (a thing which is currently sitting in the Post Office sorting office down the road, so I can’t mention it by name just yet…), so I had to create my own version of a fukubukuro (福袋) involving a Moleskine notebook, some robot stickers and a selection of items bought from Strapya World.

One of the items was a tenugui (てぬぐい), or traditional Japanese hand towel.  It shows the Death Star from Star Wars.  Nice.  I know the way to my husband’s heart.

When it arrived and I unpacked it, I realised that it wasn’t the terry towelling cloth that I expected it to be (something that most Japanese carry with them in order to have something to dry their hands on when they have used the bathroom), but a very long, slim stretch of linen cloth with the design dyed into it.  I also realised that I had bought something similar at the Drum Museum in Asakusa, thinking it was some kind of headband worn by the men who carry the portable shrines during the Sanja Matsuri, as mentioned in my Asakusa post earlier.

I’ve looked up what a tenugui is now.  You can read about it here if you like, but basically it is a Shinto cloth originating in the Heian period for use in Shinto rituals.  These days it is more often used as a drying cloth in the kitchen, or a wrapping cloth for items like bottles, or even as a means of tying chopsticks together.

I wonder how R will use his.


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