Tenugui tips

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Tenugui tips

Postby dwalker » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:46 pm

As TUSA approaches 10 year milestone they have recently introduced another traditional Japanese item.
The tenugui [手ぬぐい / 手拭]. Hand towel.

Over the last ten years you may have ordered some kind of tenkara gear from another tenkara vendor, and received a tenugui as a bonus gift received included with the product you ordered, but not recognized what it was until TUSA added it their products. I know I and others thought it was just a piece of Japanese print fabric, perhaps left over from making a rod bag.

Tenugui (USA only)


Tenugui are used for more things than just drying your hands on or for wrapping things [furoshiki / 風呂敷 / ふろしき] in as shown on the product page. Headbands or decorative wall hangings are other uses. I believe the Japanese matagi (winter time bear hunters) may have also cooked their rice inside a tenugui, the rice wrapped inside the tenugui, buried in the ground, and the wood fire built above it.

Anyway, tenugui are not hemmed on the ends, which leads to some fraying on the ends. I've read online reviews in which people give the tenugui a poor review because of the fraying. Or they ask if the ends can be hemmed. I think that comes from not understanding proper care of tenugui.

The below video shows the correct traditional way to deal with fraying ends of tenugi .

How to clean up the edge of Tenugui?


Other facets of tenugui - "Tenugui have no rules – they're only limited by their user's imagination.":



I don't think tenugui are frequently used as just a source of fabric. But the next video shows a clever way to make a DIY shopping bag from 2 tenugui. A couple of viewings make the process pretty clear, the language is Japanese.

DIY 形の良いエコバッグ 手ぬぐい2本で TENUGUI remake easy to make
[形の良いエコバッグ 手ぬぐい2本で = good form eco bag from 2 tenugui]


fwiw, ;)

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Re: Tenugui tips

Postby dwalker » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:29 pm

How to fold a tenugui wallet

【簡単結ぶだけ♪たためる!】[Easy tie only ♪ ♪! ]
手ぬぐいペットボトルホルダー。Tenugui bottle holder


Convenient bag made of 100 yen shop tenugui.


This type of bag is called an Azuma bag (あずま袋).
Do an internet search for - あずま袋って何 (what is an azuma bag)

It is not clear in the video, but the overlapping section is sewn, either by hand or sewing machine. You can do an internet search for -
手ぬぐい手ぬぐいあずま袋作り方 (how to make tenugui azuma bag)
To find further or alternate descriptions.

Or look at this 2 page pdf file. The instruction at the top of page 2 is -
[Sew the overlapping parts by hand or sewing machine.]

あづま袋の由来と作り方 {Origin of azuma bag and how to make it}
(インターネット情報を参照に作りました。)(I made reference for Internet information.)

手ぬぐいでつくる小物入れ The accessory case made with a tenugui.
[ similar to top video, but folded to fit cell phone]

btw / fyi : 手 = te, = hand ; ぬぐい = nugui = wipe. Hand wipe is literal translation.
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Re: Tenugui tips

Postby dwalker » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:55 am

These 2 websites are digitally translated into English from Japanese. The translation is mostly clear, but with some very weird translations of a few sentences, some with a bit of imagination can be figured out, others can not.

In some places, where the translation is very odd and confusing -- if you copy that single sentence in the original Japanese and paste it into the Japanese input window of a translation website - in a separate browser tab, often a better translate can be obtained.

Hopefully the 2 websites are informative of the versatility of tenugui - despite the inaccurate translations.

For example: Tenugui in different places will translate as 'towel' or 'washcloth' . Just be aware that most of the time tenugui is meant, but not always, sometimes towel means, towel.

Knowing how to use a tenugui is a must for travel!
13 killer techniques to reduce the luggage



Why is it so popular for climbing “cotton is NG”? (NG=not good **)
Anatomy of the charm and use of Japanese tenugui !



** Cotton is NG - is referencing that generally cotton clothing is 'NG, not good" for wear in cold wilderness environments, because it dries slowly, and may lead to hypothermia. But a cotton tenugui is not a tee shirt being worn next to the skin. The thing to remember is - when cooking - a dry tenugui makes a good pot holder, but a wet tenugui is not a good pot holder.

Why don't you wear cotton t-shirts for mountain climbing?


Oh, btw, on one of the websites the word, ガンガン (gangan) is digitally translates as "cancer" --- it ought to translate as 'pounding'. The sentence reads "For the purpose of using cancer (pounding) in the mountains," ... meaning pounding to wash the tenugui. Perhaps the rest of the sentence was a clue to the incorrect translation, when the sentence ends with --- "of course you can use detergent and wash with a washing machine."

fwiw, Enjoy. ;)
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Re: Tenugui tips

Postby dwalker » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:28 pm

[Trick] How to make a tenugui pot holder
[ [urawaza] tenugui de nabe tsukami o tsukuru hōhō]

Below find a 1:12 minute video and associated webpage with the same instruction
(that is a digital translation of Japanese into English, with the usual odd / absurd translations in some sentences)


Digitally translated webpage:

Original webpage:

I think, a simple and useful use of a tenugui at home or camp site. :)
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Re: Tenugui tips

Postby dwalker » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:32 am

How tenugui are made.

There are two common ways of dyeing the cotton fabric to make tenugui:

1) Nassen or nasen (捺染 ・なせん) where a frame with stencils is placed over the fabric, and the different colors of dye are sequentially squeegeed onto the fabric's top surface to produce the final image.

This method only dyes one side of the fabric, the fabric or tenugui will have a front and back side. This method can also be used to produce images with finer detail than is possible with the other dying method.

This is probably the method used to make the TUSA tenugui.

2) Chūsen or chūsensome / chūsenzome ( 注染 or 注染そめ) aka pour dyeing. In this method multiple layers of fabric are sequentially coated with a starch that covers the area not to be dyed. Later dye dams are added to the top layer, and the desired color of dye is poured into the enclosed areas. The dye is pulled through to the bottom layer of fabric by a vacuum pump below the fabric work surface.

There is no front and back to the fabric, both sides are equally dyed. It is an old traditional method. But it can not be used to make fine detailed images possible with the nassen method. Lines are generally at least 2 ~ 3mm thick, and a space of 20 mm required between colors. However, people are inventive and find ways to over come limitations of dyeing methods.

Two videos showing the nassen dying method.

Tenugui dying (main dying ・nassen)


Anbo dyed nassen


Two videos showing the chūsen pour dying method

Hamamatsu chūsensome


Japan's ancient technique "CHUSEN" production process


Added video and website with English description:

Chusen - Hand-dyeing technique (Japan)



Two types of bleached cotton fabric are commonly used. One is made with thicker thread, more water absorbent, but not as soft and quick drying as the other fabric made from thinner thread that also has a different thread count.
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Re: Tenugui tips

Postby dwalker » Fri Apr 19, 2019 10:14 pm

A third way modern tenugui are made is by inkjet printing. Using either dyes or pigment inks.
インクジェット染料プリント・手ぬぐい --- ink jet dye printed tenugui
インクジェット顔料プリント・手ぬぐい --- ink jet pigment printed tenugui
The TUSA tenugui could have been made by one of these methods.

As always there are trade offs to both of these methods, just as there are trade off to ink jet printed tenugui vs tenugui dyed using the chūsen (注染) or nassen (捺染) methods.

A short video showing ink jet dye printing of a tenugui


A digital translation of a Japanese blog comparing dye vs pigment printed tenugui.

染料プリントと顔料プリントの違いは? -- What is the difference between dye and pigment prints?
それぞれの特徴を紹介! ---- Introduce each feature!

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