Japanese Gift Wrapping Tutorial

Hi everyone! Today I am finally posting the naname tsutsumi (Japanese diagonal gift wrapping) tutorial. Below you’ll find a step-by-step picture guide on how to wrap your presents in this unique way.

Voor de Nederlandse uitleg, klik hier!

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The diagonal wrapping style originated with Mitsukoshi, the world’s oldest department store. To store and transport kimono, they used satin scarves (furoshiki) to wrap around the folded kimono. The edges were tucked inside each other so no ribbon or knots were necessary. Once Mitsukoshi evolved into the department store it is today, the method was used with paper instead.

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This type of gift wrapping is also called “Japanese department store wrapping” because it has been popularized by the many other department stores in Japan. Here is an excellent video of a store clerk using this type of wrapping technique.

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What makes this way of wrapping so special? It utilizes exactly all paper, so there is very little waste, and the remaining flaps come together in a diagonal envelope-style closure. If you do it right you only need one piece of tape to wrap your entire gift!

Sizing your paper

Here is the formula I use to determine the size of my wrapping paper.

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Length of paper = 2 x length of gift + 2 x height of gift

Width of paper = 2x width of gift + 3 x height of gift.

It’s important to use 3x the gift’s height or you will come up short in the end.

Wrapping instructions

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Cut your paper to size as shown here.

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Start with the short edge towards you.

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Move the piece towards the right so the top left and bottom right corner are on the same diagonal line. Measure 1/3 down that line. This is you gift starting point.

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Place your gift right under that 1/3 mark.

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Roll the gift forward to double-check its starting point.

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I have now rolled it over twice and looking at the back of the gift.

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Fold the right corner over the right side of the gift. The top right corner should be covered by the paper for 2-3 fingers wide. I don’t like how little space there is here, so I move my gift slightly to the left.

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After moving the gift slightly left, I check the top right corner. This should also be covered in paper. If this is not the case, move the gift slightly lower.

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Now that I have adjusted the starting position, I roll my gift back. Here you can see it is slightly to the left of my original. The bottom right corner sticks out.

Note that for every shape of gift, your starting position will be different. This is why I’m showing you this way of double-checking, because it will work for all gifts.

Very flat gifts like books may stick out quite a bit on the right due to their flatness. Don’t worry about it, as long as you double-checked your top flaps it should all work out.

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Start with the bottom corner. For today’s pictures I’m using tape for all steps, but you can totally try with no tape at home~

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Fold the left edge slightly inward.

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Then pick up the left corner and move it to the height and then the width of the gift. Push all excess paper inside.

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The first and second corners are now done. Make sure the bottom left edge of the gift is covered in paper – if not, move your gift slightly back to the right.

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Make a pre-fold at 45 degree angle on the top flap.

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Carefully roll the gift towards the top flap with your right hand. Use your left hand to pull and position the top flap so aligns perfectly along the edges of the gift.

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Side view. Note the pre-fold helping the excess paper from folding away.

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Roll 1 step. The gift is now on its side.

Note: when wrapping a book, make sure to place the gift with the book’s spine away from you for easy rolling.

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Roll another step, making sure the flap is nicely aligned with the left side of the gift and all excess fabric is out of the way.

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Here is the top flap nicely aligned with the edges of the gift.

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Now fold the right flap inward in the same way as you did the left flap. Fold all excess paper inside.

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Fold it over the right edge, aligning it perfectly.

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If you want to use a piece of tape, make sure you paste it as high as possible.

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Now, draw or imagine a diagonal line from top left to bottom right of the gift.

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Tuck the excess paper of the right flap inside according to the diagonal line.

If your right flap is too small, try again. This time with the gift more to the left of your original starting position.

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The top flap has another edge to fold inward.

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When done right, the top flap should extend over the gift by quite a bit. This may be smaller for large, flat gifts like books.

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We’ll draw or imagine another diagonal line from the top left to bottom right.

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Tuck it in, and imagine another diagonal line running from top right to bottom left.

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Finally, tuck the rest of the top flap inside.

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Use a decorative sticker as a finishing touch!

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The gift is now wrapped, and all edges meet in the center.

If you can’t make a perfect envelope closure, that’s okay too! As long as the top and right flap meet somewhere, it’s fine.

Where does the card go?

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On one side of the package there will be a pocket opening. Put your card (back facing you) inside all the way. Of course this only works if the card is smaller than your gift.

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When unwrapping the card will appear right-side up.

Try it at home

  • Use thin wrapping paper or gift foil for easy wrapping. Thicker paper is harder to handle and will become quite thick in the end.
  • Practice with an old newspaper first, and then mark the gift’s starting position on your gift wrapping paper.
  • Use washi or painters tape with delicate gifts such as books, or wrap it in clear cellophane first so you don’t damage it with your Scotch tape.

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Did you enjoy this gift wrapping tutorial? Have you ever seen this technique in a department store in Japan yourself? If so I would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

Happy wrapping!

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