Reasons why a company’s employee Asami Takino (Furoshiki Girl) is so fascinated by making Furoshiki.
Often being taken as “old-fashioned goods,” Furoshiki is actually a very useful item from the point of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and disaster’s prevention. In recent years, fashionable and cute Furoshiki are getting popular as a substitute for eco-bags.
Asami Takino (nickname “Furoshiki Girl”) has been sharing the charm of Furoshiki mainly on Instagram. While having an office work job 5 days a week, she spends her spare time after work and on weekends giving Furoshiki classes, as well as making and selling them.
She enjoys both jobs, and says she has a well-balanced life without putting too much pressure on herself.
How did Ms. Takino decide to work on Furoshiki? We asked her about the appeal of Furoshiki and her tips for doing a side job while working full time at the office.
Born in Ehime Prefecture. Maker and seller of Furoshiki (brand “Furoshiki Mignon”). She also teaches how to tie Furoshiki correctly. Ms. Takino has been published in the Nikkei Newspaper (“Furoshiki in your daily life”), has been a Furoshiki instructor on cruise ships and at the JICA Overseas Nikkei Association.
Furoshiki Made of Materials and Unique Patterns Such as Bicycle Tires, Plants etc.
Today Ms. Takino brought self-made Furoshiki with cute original designs which are little different from the ones we used to see.
This one is a collaborated work with a bicycle shop in Tokyo downtown called “Senrin”.“Senrin” means “a thousand tires” and normally they do not sell bicycles, but keep repairing them until they finally can not be repaired.
This Furoshiki images the departure bicycles from Showa period, that had ended it’s role. The bicycle’s tires were painted and the pattern of Furoshiki is the marks of tires running on it.
From extracting the dye to dyeing, you do everything yourself?!
Yes, I do. Yesterday I dyed Furoshiki using 70 cups of coffee grounds that I received from one café’s owner. Coffee has a strong aroma, so even now the smell is all around my house and it makes me feel happy. I am going to hold a private exhibition at the cafe, and I wanted to show my collaborative works too.
The intensity of the color changes depending on the time of dyeing as well as number of times. During the exhibition I want to show many types with different colors and I really enjoy doing it!
You have been working as a “Furoshiki girl” for the past 5 years, right? Were you always interested in Furoshiki?
No, I actually became interested in Furoshiki when I started working.
One day, my bag broke and didn’t close. At that time my friend Isao Yokoyama who is known as “Furoshiki Prince” used Furoshiki to repair my bag.
I was surprised how easily the Furoshiki transformed my bag into something lovely and beautiful, and at the same time I was fascinated by it’s convenience. Later Prince Furoshiki asked me to help him out with a Furoshiki booklet, and I ended up helping him as a photographer for 2 months. I felt like the more I got involved into Furoshiki the more I loved it.
What attracted you to Furoshiki?
Furoshiki is often associated with something like thiefs use for covering heads in comics or something you can find in grandmother’s wardrobe. But when I actually tried using them, I found that the charming point of Furoshiki is their ability to wrap up everything and I would like to convey those points into pop culture.
You can not only wrap things, but also spread it on the floor or wear it. Besides, Furoshiki can be used as eco-bags, first aid for injuries or as a bucket if it’s made of the water-repellent fabric, making it a disaster prevention item. It is always useful to have a piece of Furoshiki with you.
I didn’t know you could do so many things with Furoshiki ……
Actually I think that Furoshiki is for lazy people.
Many people come across Furoshiki because they are somehow attracted by words “careful living” and “ethical”. Many people used to think that Furoshiki is mainly used by those who is quite particular about something in life. However Furoshiki is all about how a single piece of cloth can be used without a waste, and if there’s anything you need to wrap at the moment you can use Furoshiki too. It fits to lazy people like me.
Another advantage is that it takes very little space because it can be folded up after use.
Since it is a very convenient item and i wanted to get more people to think “Furoshiki is an ant,” so I decided to tell about the appeal of it.
The main reason I started my Furoshiki activities is because I didn’t want to end up being just a consumer.
My parents originally built their own furniture, made a kitchen in the backyard with installed water supply and enjoyed that DIY spirit quite a lot, so I think I got influenced by that from a young age.
Being fascinated by Furoshiki might have been inevitable for you then.
For example, when I watch the great movies I always think to myself “Why don’t I make it?!” and get frustrated (laugh). Since I met Furoshiki, I naturally wanted to create something that would impress people.”
Perhaps this is just my character – not only being a fan of Furoshiki, but become it’s creator.
Collaboration Comes at the Best Timing. Just Go With the Flow
So how have you started as a “Furoshiki girl”?
My first job was a Furoshiki teaching course for foreign businessmen. I did it for the first time and worried about the language barrier, but it was a lot of fun. Takig it as a chance it to spread modern Furoshiki abroad, I did my best.
After that I got a chance to appear in media and around that time started to use the name “Furoshiki girl” on social media.
After having a personal exhibition, I got the opportunity to remake old clothes and kimonos into Furoshiki, and my collaboration partners increased gradually.
How do you find collaboration partners?
I used to go with the flow and go to those I felt a connection to. I believe that anything can be combined with Furoshiki, so there is no particular company to work with. I have been receiving requests from various companies just by letting them know my creative ideas. I usually mind the best timing for collaboration, but if it’s close to my personal exhibition, I sometimes can hurry my partners to speed up (laugh).
Balance Between 2 Jobs Comes From Working Hard on What is Right in Front of You
You are also a company’s employee. How do you handle 2 jobs?
I work 5 days a week and after that taking lessons, going for dinners, working on Furoshiki. I also work on Furoshiki all weekends and holidays.
At nights when I work on furishiki it is most likely for an upcoming events and it goes one after another so I never stop creating something.
I want to be satisfied with results, so I try to be efficient. Although I wouldn’t want to work all night long. That’s why I just do what I have and enjoy the rest.
You spend a fulfilled time with company and Furoshiki works.
Yes. Furoshiki itself is an item to help you whenever troubles come. On the other hand, I want to impress customers and stay satisfied myself, so I care of my working schedule in order not to get overwhelmed.
Of course, I get busy before the events, but other time I go out drinking with friends, watch movies, read books, learn new things besides work.
I don’t think I would be happy just doing Furoshiki…
There are so many things worth doing and it helps to shift your mood too.
Since I was little I loved that feeling of pressure before X-day. But in daily routine I feel like it disappears. That is why I try to keep my motivation high by scheduling Furoshiki events and pushing myself through.
What things do you try pay attention to while managing a 2nd job?
It is all about the right approach to the things in front of you. I love my job and people and I appreciate their support and advices in terms of Furoshiki engagement.
Recently companies become more loyal to side jobs, and I believe many people think about shifting to the job they really want to, but I would not recommend to leave your workplace.
If you quit the company without a certain record, you might have doubts later on about your 2nd job and ask yourself if it was really what you wanted to do. So if you work for a company, why not taking advantage of benefits and continue the 2nd job? In my opinion it looks like better idea.
Recently, many people struggle to find themselves. I often hear people say “I don’t enjoy my work. I want to do what I really love….”
But I feel like when I focus and work on daily things in front of me I can see myself better and it gives me deeper understanding of how I want to spend lifetime. It is a human nature to get to want something that is out of reach at the moment.
The most important is to work hard on what’s in front of you now. In Zen it calls “live from day to day”. It’s my favorite words. If you live like that, be sure people will notice you and help you to discover your unique abilities.
Is there something particular you keep in mind in your busy life?
When something bad happens I try not to think too much and just let it go. Also I try not to speak in a negative way or I get frustraited.
Furoshiki Made a Room in My Heart
What particulary makes you feel good about making Furoshiki?
Each time I run the Furoshiki class, I hear from participants that their perception of Furoshiki has changed 180°and it makes me feel great about doing this activity.
In fact Furoshiki hasn’t changed, but people’s approach. I’m happy to think it happened because of me.
After knowing the Furoshiki I could get a space in my heart too.
I also learnt the way to enjoy the pressure and spread the way of thinking. I think you get better results with that.
Then it can last longer, no?
When my bag was broken and the Furoshiki Prince helped me, it could have been over just by saying “thanks for repairing”. I wouldn’t have met Furoshiki if I didn’t feel a space inside. It’s important to create that space in your heart in order to find something special for you. It doesn’t mean “take life easy”, it is more like approaching things in life with a 100% feeling, having many of them and taking the gaps as free space.
How do you see your work on Furoshiki from now?
Currently I am working on “vegetable’s dyeing” using familiar plants, but I would like to try dyeing Furoshiki with more different plants. Things you put on are taken into the body, so I would like to use medicinal herbs such as mugwort and dokudami to make a Furoshiki that would be gentle on the body.
Awesome! Thanks a lot for the interview today.
Interviewed and written by: Mai Yoshino
Photo: Nanako Ono
Edition: Moe Kuwata (Note)