The ABCs of Tenugui Towel : What is tenugui towel? – KAMAWANU - Japanese Tenugui Towel


The ABCs of Tenugui Towel : What is tenugui towel?

The theme of this issue is "What is Tenugui Towel"?
Let's delve into the size and characteristics of tenugui towel, which has been used to "wipe" the hands and body, just like its characters.


[The size of a tenugui towel]

During the Edo period (1603-1868), cotton cultivation flourished and tenugui towel cloths became popular among the general public. In the beginning, fabrics were measured and sold in desired lengths, but later, with the development of tenugui towel designs, "cut-to-size" sales began. The size is "1 shaku 3 shaku" (1 shaku is approximately 30.3 cm). When converted to centimeters, it is approximately 30 cm x 90 cm, about the same size as a modern tenugui towel.

The main sizes of tenugui towel currently produced are approximately 90-100 cm in length and 33-36 cm in width, and are used for different materials and different purposes.

Kamawanu tenugui towel is approximately 33 cm x 90 cm. It has remained almost unchanged since the Edo period and continues to be used today.


[About the fabrics]

Bleached cotton fabric,called "Sarashi"

Ordinary cotton is a natural color. It contains impurities such as cotton fat, cotton seeds and husks. The fabric is treated to remove these impurities and scoured to make it whiter, which is called "Sarashi".

In the Edo period, the process of boiling in lye/washing in clean water/sun-drying was repeated for several months. It was a very time-consuming and labor-intensive process to produce high-quality bleached cloth.

Souri ,it is the name of the fabric.

Plain weave cloth woven with 20 count yarn. It is characterized by its firm thickness, but also by its rough weave and quick drying.

Cotton yarns are twisted, but the yarns used for bleaching are "low twist" yarns, which have less twisting. As the yarn is used, it becomes fluffier and more like the original cotton. This gives the yarn a soft hand feel.

[Features of Tenugui Towel]

Cotton is a fabric with excellent water absorbency and water retention properties. If you look at a tenugui towel cloth through a magnifying glass, you will see that it is slightly fluffy, which serves to absorb moisture. Each time it is washed, it becomes fluffy and soft, and its water absorbency improves.

Both ends of the tenugui towel are "left uncut". Since there are no seams, moisture does not accumulate and the cloth dries quickly. In the hot and humid climate of Japan, the wisdom of our ancestors has been passed down from generation to generation to prevent the growth of bacteria and keep the cloth clean.

Fraying of cut fabric stops after about 5 to 10 mm. This is because the fibers of the adjacent threads of the fringes are entangled with each other, making it difficult for the weft threads to pull out, and this is how fraying is stopped. If threads come out during washing, leave the fringe and cut only the long threads that have come out.

Tenugui towel is a versatile cloth that can be used for wrapping, laying out, decorating, and many other purposes. Its versatility is one of its charms, and it is not just for "wiping".

Thus, tenugui is very eco-friendly and can be used over and over again!


As tenugui towel cloth is used for a long time, it becomes soft and tarnished.
The tenugui towel has a unique taste that you will never be able to part with.

We call the finished tenugui towel "vintage tenugui towel".
Like denim, the texture of a tenugui towel changes depending on how it is handled, and a tenugui towel that has been used for many years has a special color and feel.

Why don't you grow your own tenugui towel?