Tenugui (Hand Towels)


Tenugui 手ぬぐい Small Towels

Small thin hand towles, which are used on many occasions in Japan and also given away as presents. You can wring them around your head as a headband too. They are very handy in the hot and humid summer, since they dry very fast.

This towel shows papermachee Daruma Dolls from all parts of Japan.
It is very educational !


. Daruma Tenugui .



Some Photos from my friend Ishino.


© PHOTO : rakuten


中村染工場 注染手ぬぐい


ganbatte がんばって "hang in there"

source : facebook


© PHOTO : www.tenugui.co.jp

The dolls are from:
下河原土人形(青森県) 堤土人形(宮城県) 練人形赤招猫(埼玉県鴻ノ巣)江戸張子(東京都) 今戸土人形(東京都) 多摩張子(東京都)伊勢原土鈴(神奈川県) 金沢張子(石川県) 伏見土人形子福猫(京都府)初辰羽織猫(大阪府住吉) 津屋崎土人形(福岡県) 古博多土人形(福岡県)

"Good Luck Towel" from Kicho 吉兆縁起手拭

© PHOTO : www.tenugui.co.jp

The dolls are from
葛畑土人(兵庫県) 名古屋土人形(愛知県) 練り人形(大阪府)
三角ダルマ(新潟県見附) 中野土人形(長野県) 清水土人形(京都府)
小幡土人形(滋賀県) 高松土人形(香川県) 今戸土人形(東京都)
中山土人形(秋田県) 木地ダルマ(宮城県白石) 小幡土人形(滋賀県)

With a triangular Daruma from Niigata, Nakayama clay doll from Akita and a wooden one from Miyagi.

. Nakayama ningyoo 中山人形 Dolls from Nakayama


CLICK for more CLICK for tenugui without Daruma !

CLICK for many more !


Tenugui from Kyoto 京手ぬぐい

machiya tenugui 町家手拭 from the town houses of Kyoto
One store is 永楽屋細辻伊兵衛商店.
. . . CLICK here for machiya tenugui Photos !

CLICK for more photos They are made with special modern patterns, although some date back more the beginning of the 20th century and have a look like art nouveau.
For example two geisha glindin down a hill on ski !
They can be used for many purposes, and some stores even have workshops teaching their use. They are great collector's items too.

. . . CLICK here for more Photos !


Kimono, Yukata, Nagajuban and more

. Tenugui with Dragon patterns .

. Sake 酒 as pattern for tenugui .


go o taite tenugui aburu samusa kana

I burn pine needles
to dry my hand towel
in this cold . . .

The cut marker KANA is at the end of line 3.

Written on December 14, 1677, lunar calendar 貞亨4年11月10日頃

Oi no Kobumi 笈の小文.
When visiting Tokoku 杜国 in Mikawa, Toyohashi. 三河豊橋。

go is the local Mikawa dialect for dried pine needles, used to make a fire.

another version of this poem in 如行子 was

go o taite tenugui aburu koori kana - ice

tenugui with mizu bashoo pattern

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

. - Tsuboi Tokoku 坪井杜国 - .


. Fudō Myō-ō, Fudoo Myoo-Oo 不動明王 Fudo Myo-O
Acala Vidyârâja – Vidyaraja – Fudo Myoo .

. Jusanbutsu 十三仏 13 Protector Buddhas .

- reference : www.google.co.jp


source : blogs.yahoo.co.jp/enoborishinsho

street vendors of Edo - tenugui hand towel 「江戸の物売り」の手ぬぐい

. Edo shokunin 江戸の職人 Edo craftsmen .

tenuguiya 手ぬぐい屋 / 手拭屋 making hand towels
During the Heian period, small towels made from silk or hemp were already used by the aristocracy.

During the late Edo period, cotton became available cheap enough for the townspeople to use it as towels.
First they were made by the
. konya 紺屋 artisan making "blue" things, cloth dyers .
But soon a separate craft developed. There are three steps involved in making a Tenugui, and each one is done by a specialist.
First an eshi 絵師 painter paints the pattern.
Then a katahorishi 型彫師 pattern paper maker cuts the pattern for dyeing.
Finally the somemonoshi 染物師 dyer applies the pattern on cotton and dyes the cloth.

These small towles were not only used to wipe hands and face, but also as a kind of headband or head cover and even as a shop curtain (noren のれん).

Eventually the design for the patterns became more and more specialized and decorative and they became an item of the chick of Edo (oshare お洒落).

- quote -
..... Tenugui would not become commonplace until well after the Heian period. Fabric making techniques improved throughout the Kamakura and Edo periods, driving cloth prices down while increasing the supply. Once tenugui became affordable, the cloth's versatility fueled its widespread use. More durable than paper, the cloth could be washed and reused. But most importantly, tenugui filled the needs of the time – becoming headwear, belts, wallets, and protective and decorative wrapping. With limitless uses, tenugui became a necessity.
tenugui became so cheap they could be used for cleaning both the household and its inhabitants. Tenuguiya.jp states that the spread of onsen and practice of routine bathing fueled tenugui's popularity, making it a bathhouse staple. With modern-day towels still years away, tenugui faced little competition.
bathing wasn't the only cultural practice to embrace tenugui. The cloth's versatility made it a staple of summer festivals – worn as headwear, belts or used as a prop. Tenugui also served as headbands for kendo practitioners – soaking up sweat and protecting their heads from their bulky helmets. The cloth even became a tool of the underworld. The Japanese image of a thief wouldn't be complete without a tenugui tied off under his nose, a mask hiding his identity.
where would a rakugo storyteller be without a tenugui? Performer Katsura Sunshine explains, "Rakugo features a lone storyteller… who, using only a fan and a hand towel for props, entertains the audience with a comic monologue followed by a traditional story." That towel, a tenugui, shape-shifts in the performer's skilled hands. With a little imagination it substitutes for any prop the act may call for.
..... more .....
- source : tofugu.com/japan -

- reference source : tenuguiya.jp/rekishi -


. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

.................................................... Kagawa 香川県

Kobo Daishi


- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
65 手拭
31 手ぬぐい
02 てぬぐい


. Tengupedia - 天狗ペディア - Tengu ABC-List .

CLICK for many more photos !





Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...


go o taite / tenugui aburu / samusa kana

Matsuo Basho

go are small dry pine branches.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

hi no yoojin 火の用心 watch out for fire - fire prevention


Gabi Greve - Edopedia said...

street vendors of Edo - tenugui hand towel 「江戸の物売り」の手ぬぐい


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

tsurushibina, tsurushi bina つるし雛 / 吊るし雛 small hanging hina dolls

as tenugui !

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

abura uri 油売り oil vendor in Edo

When dispensing oil, the vendors got their hands dirty and had to carry some straw to wipe the hands clean.

uchiwara o tenugui ni suru abura uri

the oil vendor
uses cut straw as a towel
to wipe his hands

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Jusanbutsu, Juusanbutsu 十三仏

13 Protector Buddhas


Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Kanagawa
neko 猫 a cat
At the home of the soy sauce merchant, a tenugui 手拭 hand towel disappeared every night. The shop owner thought this was strange and found out that the cat of the family came to take it away. The cats of the neighbourhood met every night and danced and his cat had used the hand towel to cover her face

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Fukushima
東白川郡 Higashi-Shirakawa district 塙町 Hanawa town

. kitsune densetsu 狐と伝説 fox legends .
The husband of 白石サカヨ Shiraishi Sakayo was carrying fish from the port of 平潟港 Hiragata. After passing a bridge and a mountain pass, he came to the 街道 Kaido highway. Just there a fox usually appeared and insulted him. The man then shouted:
"I will give one fish to 乙姫 Princess Otohime down the river!" and threw one piece of maguro 鰹 tuna fish down the valley.
If he did this, the fox would leave him in peace.
Another man who heard this story put on a white tenugui 手拭い hand towel to look like a woman, went down the river and got the tuna fish.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Kyoto
伏見区 Fushimi ward // 痢病

The head priest of the temple 清養院 Seiyo-In suffered from ribyo 痢病 dysentery in one summer.
One evening when he went to the toilet, he knocked at the door, he heard a voice saying "Wait a moment, just wait!"
Then the cat of the temple came running out, the door opened fully and a huge cat came it. This huge cat walked around the district 納屋町 Nayamachi every night and asked the temple cat to join it. But since the temple cat had to keep company to the priest, it could not go out. The huge cat promised to give her a tenugui 手ぬぐい hand towel, but the temple cat still did not want to leave her master and asked the huge cat to go away. Now the priest gave a hand towel to his cat and told it to go where she wanted. So the cat run off and never returned.

Gabi Greve said...

nekomata Legend from Kagawa

If a cat turns old, it becomes 猫また a Nekomat with two tails and dances on its hind legs. People give it fish with Tofu and put a red tenugui 手拭 hand towel on its head. Thus the cat wll leave the home.