Linen Tie Top Bags
Over the weekend I removed our linen tip top bags from sale (formally called Azuma Bukuro bags) and here is why…
There has been a lot of information recently in regards to the cultural appropriation of terms, specifically when it comes to ‘kimono sleeves’ and alike. In the past year since releasing the tutorials, kits, videos and now the bags I’ve done a lot of research and what I felt was the correct thing to do was to honour the heritage of the bag and name them ‘Azuma Bukuro’ can in fact be seen as appropriation which was never my intention. Please read the information below which was sent to me when I first referred to the bags as ‘Bento Style Bags’ the use of the word bento isn’t correct in all situations and this is the resulting conversation with a wonderful customer of mine who I really can’t thank enough for her time.
“Get to know the story behind the jointed triangular bag commonly referred as #bentobag and its Japanese name “Azuma Bukuro” ✨．．． I have been a bag lady for my entire life. One of earliest memory of “my bag” is a red pouch called Azuma Bukuro that I used to store my pajamas at day care. The wide opening and simple tie design was easy enough for 3 year old to stuff and store your own belongings in one place. Yes, it is the same bag shape you see on #bentobag．．． In Japan, it’s common to pack lunch box then put it in a bag or wrap it in cloth. You might use draw string bag, furoshiki wrap, or maybe small Azuma Bukuro to do so. I assume naming for #bentobag was originated from lunch box use case. But “Bento bag” in Japan could refer to any bag/cloth, and “Azuma Bukuro” refers to the jointed triangular bag.
．．． Fukuro (or Bukuro when combined with other word)– means “sack”. Azuma refers to Kanto region from the point of view of Kansai region. In Edo period, Kanto was where government was placed and dealt with the West.
It is hard to pin down exact origin of Azuma Bukuro, but folktale I commonly hear is that it was commoners invention to create western style bag using everyday cloth like #furoshiki and #tenugui. It is referred as “Kanto region pouch” because that’s where western influence was prevalent. Isn’t this fascinating?
．．． Now back to the #bentobag… There are stores that sell “The original tie Bento Bag” as project bag…without reference to the historical Azuma bag shape, nor mention of the word “Bento” being lunch box. It feels like “Bento bag” is starting to be used as a noun for the jointed triangular bag and I feel a bit alarmed
．．． I think the word “Bento” has good ring to it and seems good fit for a product name of a grocery bag. I think it’s wonderful that people found the use beyond carrying lunch box, just like it’s original inception to carry anything you want in a bag and not wasting any material in making the bag.
But before you use that as a new noun and refer to some #bentobag product as the original, hope you take a minute to acknowledge the history and know that it has common name “Azuma Bukuro” in the place of origin – Japan.
Post script: it’s is entirely possible that “the jointed triangular bag” exists in other place/culture, but since the current street name uses a Japanese word (Bento), I assume this #bentobag trend was originated in Japanese culture. Also other street name of this bag is – Miyuki (travel) Bukuro and Sankaku (triangle) Bukuro” – @Kosamari – you can find the original post on my Instagram page and hers.
In order to preserve the heritage of this amazing bag going forward you will see the bags listed on my website as ‘linen bags’ or ‘linen tie bags’ the purpose of this post it too highlight the culture behind these items, the heritage and use of them and their incredible versatility.
Full disclosure – All of the remaining printed brochures that come with the sewing kits currently still have ‘Azuma Bukuro’ on them, Rosie, Jodie and myself are working to rewrite them and in the meantime there will be an explanation sent out with each kit.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I will add to it as I find out more and research further into the history of these beautiful pieces.
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