During our trip to Japan in late 2008, Heidi and I bought a couple of basic duffel bags at a 100 yen store. They are made from the same material as the canopy of a modern umbrella, and feature an elegant, minimalist flower pattern. They are perfect for separating clean from dirty clothes, and we take them with us when we go on trips.

We generally also take a whole bunch of cables: a couple of phone chargers, laptop power supplies, and some other connection cables. I have some old bubble wrap that we use to keep them all together. This protects them from damage, and prevents them from shifting around in our bags and becoming difficult to find.

I see a lot of value in lightweight reusable packaging for separation and organisation of groups of items. It’s like putting pencils in a pencil case rather than straight into your schoolbag. It’s neat and tidy, and it makes using the items and then putting them away much easier. Plus you won’t get penl marks in your schoolbag!

Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more standards for containers. Paper comes in standard sizes (eg. A4), so why not boxes? There are bunch of different systems (eg. Tupperware) but, as far as I know, no real vendor-neutral standards.

In the area of travel packing, I’ve noticed that Eagle Creek seem to be targeting that market with the PackIt range of organiser containers. Their concept appeals to me, but their implementation and aesthetics do not. They also seem a little… over-complicated, and I find them rather garish.

Which brings us to Furoshiki.

(Image by katorisi)

Furoshiki are Japanese wrapping cloths, and they can be used to tie up pretty much anything. It’s all about determining a folding pattern that suits the item you want to wrap up. Interestingly, the Government of Japan’s Ministry for the Environment has a guide on How to use Furoshiki.

Here’s an image of their guide:

Intriguing. I imagine that we will be learning a few wrapping patterns, and packing a number of basic square cloths when we travel from now on. I’ve been browsing the designs available at furoshiki.com and they are generally very appealing.

That said, I may experiment with something in between Eagle Creek’s modern products and Japan’s traditional Furoshiki. After all, the duffel bags we bought are more suitable for their purpose than multi-purpose cloths, and that may also be the case for other items. Although, maybe it’s all in the wrapping pattern. šŸ˜‰