ISSUE No.01 : The history of "TENUGUI"

ISSUE No.01 : The history of "TENUGUI"

Even 1300 years ago, during the Nara period, the word "Tenugui" did not exist, but the existence of such a cloth is considered to have already been there. It is said to have existed in the era when people were able to write, and was used for special religious rites, cleaning and decorating gods and Buddhas.

From the Heian period (794 - 1185), they were made of hemp or silk, and the materials used were divided between commoners and nobles. Among them, cotton Tenugui were a precious existence that could only be obtained at special occasions such as festivals.


In the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), the samurai class began to use Tenugui. This was part of etiquette, and it was also used to wipe sweat during battles. You can sometimes see scenes in period dramas where Sengoku warlords would wrap original Tenugui around their heads and wear a helmet over it.


In the Edo period (1603 - 1868), cotton cultivation flourished, and Tenugui became popular among the common people. During this time, the use of Tenugui expanded, and they were used in daily life as versatile players. They were used not only as towels and handkerchiefs but also for sunshade, dust prevention, bandages, footwear repair, and other wide-ranging purposes. Public bath culture also spread, and cotton Tenugui used for bathing were called "Yute" or "Yude." Also, they were noted as stylish fashion items, and there were even appraisal meetings called "Tenugui matching."


Entering the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), productivity improved with advancements in dyeing techniques and industrialization. Along with diversified designs, Tenugui began to be used in interiors and fashion. During the post-war economic growth period (1950s - 1980s), they gained popularity as souvenirs in tourist destinations and became known worldwide.


Today, Tenugui are used for various purposes, and along with the interest in ecology, they are also valued as sustainable options. While preserving traditional techniques, new designs that suit modern lifestyles are being created, enhancing the value of Tenugui as a part of Japanese culture.


Thus, through Japan's long history, Tenugui have been closely linked to people's lives in various uses and forms. Evolving from ornaments to utility items, and now into eco-friendly products, they remain a familiar presence in our lives.