When I first got this out of its box, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. From the initial look and feel, I thought it was a furoshiki (a square cloth used for wrapping bento boxes) which would have been pretty cool. But then I opened it up further, and was clearly a scarf … or was it? It’s a little long and wide to be a scarf, but not wide enough to be a furoshiki.
I got this courtesy of Biken International and JapanExpo. Biken International does an exhibit called The Wabi Sabi Exhibition that showcases traditional Japanese arts and crafts at the JapanExpo. For those who don’t know, Wabi Sabi is a Japanese art style that emphasizes simplicity and natural materials. However, this scarf is neither.
It’s hard to review a scarf. Fashion is personal, and one person can absolutely hate something that someone else absolutely loves. There are two real components to a scarf—design and material. For me, this scarf fails to wow on either front.
The fabric is nice. I thought it might be silk, but after handling it a bit more I don’t think it is. It feels more like a type of nice cotton. I like the pale blue color. It reminds me of some of the indigo dyes you see in Japan.
The real issue is the design. There is a row of Japanese crests that I found pretty, but the main design is a gilded bird that looks conspicuously European. I’m not sure what kind of bird this is. A cockatiel? I’ve seen this type of design before, with the fancy bird and the golden chain, but I can’t exactly remember where. It looks out of place on the scarf, and odd attempt to blend Japanese and European design that just doesn’t click.
Ultimately, by trying to hit too many targets the scarf fails. It’s too “stuck in the middle.” It isn’t European, it isn’t Japanese. It isn’t a scarf, it isn’t a furoshiki. It needs to go one way or the other.
Oh, and the ultimate test of this scarf. After looking it over for review purposes, I gave it to my wife to see what she thought. She was unimpressed, and her reaction can be summed up as “Meh.” She also would have liked it better if it had been a true furoshiki, because at least then we could have gotten some use out of it.
NOTE: After talking to my wife some more, we figured out this is neither a furoshiki, not a scarf, but a tenegui, a type of hand towel common throughout Japan used for wiping your hands and neck during the hot humid summers. Neither of us had seen a tenegui this fancy–usually they are cotton towels with shop names on them or some kind of design. Tenegui are usually disposable, because you use them to wipe up sweat and dirty water. But if you are in the mood for a fashionable one, well … this might be up your alley. But I would almost feel bad using it for its intended purpose.