What a year it has been! As we near the end of 2021, we'd like to wrap up the year by reflecting on some key moments in the past 12 months. Despite another year of unpredictable ups and downs, one thing is certain: we've truly poured our heart and soul into Zusetsu and we could not be prouder of Zusetsu's achievements! We'd like to thank everyone who has become part of our Zusetsu community and joined us on our journey ❤️
Thank you from Cathy & Yukki!
We are also incredibly humbled to have been featured in the press on a few occasions this year. Thank you to the BBC, Fusion Events & Weddings and Japan Nakama for spreading the word of furoshiki 🌸
Zusetsu on the BBC!
In case you missed it, you can find our features from here: The BBC: Politics West Fusion (Sustainable Wedding Planning & Events): The Origins of Furoshiki - Quality Fabric Gift Wrapping Japan Nakama (Japanese Inspired Culture & Lifestyle Magazine): From Japan with Love: Japanese Gift-Wrapping with Zusetsu
Now, let's get right into the Zusetsu 2021 rewind!
Lots of Snow!
We started off the year with A LOT of snow! Here in the Cotswolds, snowy days are not too common so we had so much fun going on scenic wintry walks and making worried-looking snowmen! ☃️
Around this time, Cathy was also deeply inspired by Junichiro Tanizaki's essay In Praise of Shadows. We love reading and discovering new books during these cold months - so much so that we have a JanuaryinJapan Bookclub in the works for January 2022! Stay tuned for more details 😊
Cohare Furoshiki Mini Bouquet Series & New Tenugui
At the end of January, we released our 2021 Spring Collection, featuring our new Cohare Furoshiki Mini Bouquet Series. They are a lovely soft furoshiki scattered with dainty flowers, bringing a pop of floral inside your home now that the start of spring was in the air. We also boosted our tenugui collection with a few new spring prints, as tenugui were secretly our other bestselling items!
The Start of Spring: Setsubun (節分), Candlemas, and Risshun (立春)
We celebrated the end of winter and the beginning of spring with Setsubun, Candlemas, and Risshun. By chance, Setsubun and Candlemas were both on Febuary 2 this year! On Setsubun, people in Japan partake in a ritual called mamemaki, where they scatter soybeans around the house while shouting "oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi! (demons out, good luck in!)". The soybeans are meant to purify the house from any lingering misfortunes from the previous year. We had a lot of fun throwing soybeans at our oni (demon) as one of us wore a demon mask! For Candlemas, we took some lovely photos of snowdrops in the Cotswolds - Cathy is always reminded of snowdrops around this time of year! Cathy also wrote a lovely blog post on Genji and the Changing Seasons inspired by Risshun (the start of Japanese spring).
Furoshiki Tutorials: Valentine's Gift Wrap
For Valentine's Day, we made a fun little furoshiki tutorial for heart-shaped gifts 💖 This short video is the first post we made in our new TikTok account which you can follow from here! We were also inspired to revamp our Furoshiki Tutorials page with a few more furoshiki wrapping styles, including this lovely vase wrap, perfect for your Valentine's flowers 🌹
Zusetsu's First Virtual Event: Tea & Hina Matsuri with Mai
Without a doubt, the highlight of February was our first ever virtual event: Tea & Hina Matsuri. We hosted this event along with our tea expert and dear friend Mai based in Kyoto, which made this event extra special for us. Hina Matsuri (Girls' Day) is a Japanese tradition on March 3rd that celebrates the health and happiness of each girl in the family. We were surprised to learn that there were many Japanese tea ceremony rituals specifically for Hina Matsuri. We are so grateful to Mai, who has studied tea ceremonies for many years, for teaching us so much about a world we were so fascinated about! You can read a bit of what we covered during the event from our blog post: Tea and Hina Matsuri with Mai. Other related blogs: What is Hina Matsuri? Let's Learn about Japanese Tea!
Mother's Day Special: Furoshiki-wrapped Vegan Candles
We debuted our Mother's Day collaboration with Hunters Moon Candles who are also based in the Cotswolds! We now have in-store their lovely hand-poured 100% plant-based candles beautifully giftwrapped in one of our exquisite re-usable furoshiki as a ready-wrapped thoughtful gift 🥰 Inspired by the fragrant candles, Cathy also wrote a blog: Kyoto and a Tradition of Fragrance.
Kata Kata Face Towels
In March, we introduced the Kata Kata fluffy face towels collection featuring three cute animals: Whale, Bear and Owl! Kata Kata are a talented Japanese artist duo Takeshi Matsunaga and Chie Takai. We initially fell in love with their amazing koala and otter furoshiki, which can also be found in-store too!
Zusetsu Online Workshop: Furoshiki & Hanami
We love hanami, the Japanese spring festival of cherry-blossom viewing, and so to celebrate this lovely time of year we hosted our first live online furoshiki wrapping event in March, called Furoshiki Class: Japanese Hanami Bento Wrap and More!
As hanami is a time of picnics under the cherry trees we decided to show how to make wraps with a picnic theme! Our guests were such a lovely, enthusiastic and friendly group, and it truly was a real pleasure meeting everyone 😍 They shared wonderful photos that they took of their own furoshiki-wrapped creations, which you can view from this blog - Hanami Furoshiki Workshop: So Much Fun!
As hanami season came into full force, the Zusetsu team also had a fun hanami where we brought our furoshiki picnic to our favourite spot in the Cotswolds - an enchanting orchard a few fields away from our home! You can read more about our hanami story from our blog post here. We made sugar cookies inspired by the sweet characters from the Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro and we made cute little smiling riceballs too!🍙
Easter is always so cheery with Zusetsu! We always get a big bunch of daffodils as they bring a huge smile to our faces. This was the perfect time to make a cute furoshiki tutorials video for the bunny ears wrap 🐰
Zusetsu GIFs and Stickers
Another cheery release was Cathy's cute GIFs and stickers! As a professional children's book illustrator, we've always wanted to incorporate her cute illustration style to Zusetsu. You can use these stickers and GIFs by searching for "Zusetsu" on Instagram stories or other social platforms. You can also view our GIPHY page from here!
Sake & Furoshiki: Sorakami & Zusetsu Collab Workshop
This was absolutely so much fun! It was such a pleasure collaborating with sake sommelier Robin from Japanese Sake Online Store Sorakami on this Sake & Furoshiki online workshop. He spoke about many interesting facets of sake brewing, explaining that sake is the national drink of Japan, and that it is sipped like a wine and is not a spirit or a shot!
We enjoyed the sake taste-testing - kanpai!
Having enjoyed a taste of sake, Cathy demonstrated how to use furoshiki to giftwrap a sake bottle beautifully. Everyone who participated in the event practiced how to do a furoshiki kimono wrap and you can see their exquisite furoshiki wraps in our blog: Saturday Evening at our Sake and Furoshiki Online Event!
Holiday in Devon
The Zusetsu team went on a much needed vacation during the May Bank Holiday to Devon. We discovered a beautiful hike along the coastal path and came across a group of stocky Dartmoor ponies drinking water among the bluebells!
Children's Day & Koinobori
Children's Day is a national holiday in Japan, which takes place every year on the 5th of May. It is a celebration of children and their happiness. Koinobori kites are typically flown on this day so we celebrated this custom in the Cotswolds by making cute koinobori origami and putting up our koinobori tenugui display. Cathy also wrote a sweet blog about this which you can view from here!
Kawaii Washi Tape
We've had a tremendous time getting creative with our fun washi tapes and cherry blossom petal stickers! Using a hardback sketchbook we've created some cute decorative pages to remind us of our special days in Kyoto, and the fun we had growing Zusetsu last year. You can check out the full range of our kawaii washi tape from here.
Furoshiki Hair Ties
It's finally summer time and if you have long hair like us you'll like to find pretty ways to tie your hair back! We explored how furoshiki can be used to make stylish hair ties - we think the pretty patterns of our furoshiki really complement our Cotswolds summer garden❤️
The Havan Store & Zusetsu Giveaway Collab
We did a fun Instagram giveaway with our friends Charlie and Chris from the Havan Store - a Japanese tea shop and matcha bar based in London. Their Japanese tea and our Japanese furoshiki really do compliment each other so well and made a lovely prize for our lucky winner 😊
Furoshiki Bag Wraps
Around this time of year, we also updated our Furoshiki Tutorials page, especially our furoshiki bags section, by adding a lot more supplementary photos and videos. We've received a lot of positive feedback regarding our tutorials and we hope to keep expanding our resources to provide creative inspiration for your furoshiki wrapping!
This year, we found the most beautiful poppy & daisy field near where we're based x
Zusetsu's First Original Furoshiki: Snowflower!
Our greatest achievement of the year! Pictured above is Snowflower, our first ever Zusetsu original furoshiki! As a furoshiki store, we always dreamed of one day having our very own, unique furoshiki. It took more than a year of hard work, but we couldn't be more proud of our Snowflower❤️
Snowflower is made in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Our furoshiki is screen-printed by hand, using the traditional techniques passed down by generations. Crucially, the cherry blossom was designed by our very own Cathy, who used her illustration skills as a professional children's book illustrator for the past 30 years. You can learn more about our Snowflower furoshiki process from here!
Meet the Snowflower furoshiki designer, Cathy from Zusetsu!
Furoshiki for Weddings
Part of the inspiration behind our new Zusetsu Snowflower furoshiki was to create a design that would look wonderful for weddings and special parties! We released a new Weddings page on our website, as we would love to help make your special occasion extra special by adding a unique and thoughtful touch. We now offer custom wrapping services for wedding events too!
Zusetsu eGift Card
In July, our Zusetsu eGift Card also went live! This is the perfect present for everyone who loves Zusetsu - a gift card to spend in our online store! The eGift Card is such a handy gift for anyone who would like to choose their favourite furoshiki.
Ino-kichi Kyoto Bags
We're thrilled to be able to introduce you to our very first small range of beautiful bags by Kyoto brand Ino-kichi! Ino-kichi is an original brand of quality bags, purses, and other gifts made by a traditional fabric printing studio which is located north of Nijo Castle in Kyoto.
We have three different styles of bags available in-store that we think you'll love too. You can read more about this from our blog: Come and Meet our New Kyoto Bags!Come and Meet our New Kyoto Bags!
We also had a great time taking photos and promo videos in some beautiful areas of the Cotswolds such as Broad Campden and Sezincote Garden.
As we eased into autumn, we added a few more colourful Japanese tenugui to our collection. How could we resist the boats of Arashiyama under brilliant fall leaves! The colours are just wonderful, aren't they!
We now made Snowflower available in packs of 5! To tie the bundle together, Cathy was inspired by the Japanese art of mizuhiki - the thin Japanese cords that are tied in a unit in beautiful ways. Traditionally, mizuhiki are twines of washi paper that are tied in elegant knots to decorate gifts and small envelopes. The knots are varied and have symbolic meaning - they sugges the knots of love and care that weave between us. The knots that tie furoshiki similarly carry this symbolism of connection and love.
This year, we discovered a really lovely new cafe called Vegetable Matters in a nearby village. What's especially wonderful about this place is that they have a very large sunflower field right in front of it, which you can admire from the cafe's outdoor patio! The farmer who owns the sunflower field is also super cheery and kindly let us take a few photos with our furoshiki🌻 You'll be seeing a few more photos from this photoshoot on our Instagram next year!
Furoshiki & Origami Collab Workshop
Cathy joined with Toshiko from Happy Origami for a fun collaborative online workshop celebrating Japanese wrapping culture. We had a great time wrapping with furoshiki and creating origami lilies and hearts!❤️
Tsukimi Moon Viewing
We celebrated tsukimi, the Japanese moon-viewing festival in the Cotswolds! The Zusetsu team stood on a hillside overlooking our pretty town. As the sun set behind us the moon blazed red, before ascending higher and touching the hillside with the faintest golden glimmer!
Zusetsu's Furoshiki Handbook!
Our second proudest achievement this year following the debut of our Zusetsu Snowflower Furoshiki has to be the release of our original Zusetsu Furoshiki Handbook! It includes 16 different styles of furoshiki wrap, so you can create stunning furoshiki gift-wraps for your friends and family, and furoshiki bags too.
You will see Cathy's artwork and diagrams used through the entire Furoshiki Handbook. We're so please that so far the Furoshiki Handbook has been in high demand and we hope to continue expanding our original Zusetsu products next year too!
At Zusetsu, we have a fun halloween tradition of carving Ghibli characters into our pumpkins. Last year we did Jiji the cat from Kiki's Delivery Service and this year we did the Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro! We got the pumpkin from our new go-to cafe Vegetable Matters in Ebrington. What pumpkin carving shall we do next year? 🎃
Artisan Japanese Chocolate Truffles & Snowflower Furoshiki Gift Set
This Christmas, we are thrilled to be partnering with Yumiko from Okashi2sweets to present the ultimate chocolate truffle gift for the Japan-lover in your life. The gift box consists of 12 hand-made chocolate truffles packed with uniquely Japanese flavours and will come ready-wrapped with care in our Snowflower furoshiki!
Have you been craving Japanese sweets and confections as much as we have? We really cannot wait to be back in an enchanting machiya in Kyoto, drinking matcha and tasting the wonderous sweet delicacies of wagashi.. 😋 This is why we instantly fell in love with Yumiko's chocolate truffles, as the distinct flavours immediately took us back to our favourite Japanese sweetshop💞
Cotswolds Christmas Fair at Daylesford
In December we were so excited to be invited to demonstrate Christmas furoshiki gift-wrapping at the wonderful Cotswold Christmas Fair at Daylesford! It was wonderful to chat about furoshiki and share beautiful Kyoto furoshiki wrapping with such an enthusiastic and welcoming audience! :)
Getting Ready for Christmas
In November, we went all out on the Christmas spirit by revamping our Zusetsu home page with Christmas photos🎄 Each year we try to find a creative way to feature our traditional Japanese furoshiki into classic Christmas settings as we truly believe they compliment one another. We love how the photos came out this year!
Cathy also drew adorable Christmas-themed illustrations which we've scattered across our website - how cute are these sugar plum fairies, nutcracker, and robins! These drawings are also available as GIFs and stickers, which you can add to your Instagram stories (just search for "Zusetsu" in the sticker search bar).
Being based in the Cotswolds, we were spoilt for choice when it comes to cozy locations for our Christmas photoshoot. We had an action-packed two days where visited the Charingworth Manor, Huxley's Cafe, and sustainable organic farm Daylesford for our stunning photos this year!
UNIQLO Furoshiki Workshop
Wearing our new Rapanui Zusetsu t-shirt, Cathy headed to the flagship Uniqlo UK store at 311 Oxford Street London, to host 4 short workshops on furoshiki wrapping! We love to get out and meet new friends, and everyone was so good at furoshiki wrapping! It was such a fun afternoon - thank you to Uniqlo for inviting us!
In the final few weeks leading up to Christmas, we posted regular blogs and newsletters that shared inspiration for Christmas gift-wrapping. Each year we notice furoshiki being mentioned more and more frequently in mainstream media. Our hope is that furoshiki becomes a widely recognised gift-wrapping option in the West. We hope you found our blogs helpful and inspired you to use this eco-friendly alternative instead of un-recyclable single-use wrapping paper this year!
Thank you for supporting us and see you in 2022!
We had such a fruitful year and we're looking forward to more adventures and fun projects in the next year! Thank you for your continuous support! 来年度もどうぞ宜しくお願い申し上げます。
Cathy & Yukki xx