Tenugui are a type of cloth that has been a part of Japanese life since the Heian Period beginning in the 800s. The word tenugui literally means hand wipe, but the utilitarian towels have been used for everything from drying and cleaning to wrapping. Endlessly versatile, they were even used as fashion accessories in the Edo Period.
Founded in 1990, Kamawanu is a Tokyo-based company dedicated to preserving the craft and culture of tenugui towels.
The company specializes in the “Chusen” dyeing technique, which dates back to Meiji-era Japan. Dye is poured on the cloth, soaking each strand of cotton all the way through and creating a finish that does not harden. The resulting patterns have no front or back, making the cloth reversible. Watch the video below to see how each towel is made.
Each Kamawanu tenugui is handmade by artisans who have honed their craft over the years, taking into consideration the weather and humidity as they adjust their process throughout the year. The result is individually unique pieces of cloth that blend into your home without being obtrusive. They grow softer over time and have a way of becoming part of your lifestyle.
Kamawanu has created over 500 patterns, each inspired by motifs and seasonality of Japanese history and nature. We’ve curated a small collection of some of our favorites, over at the Spoon & Tamago shop. You might notice that the first row consists of standard patterns while the next three rows are our curated collection of seasonal selections that trace the year through spring, summer, autumn and then winter.