The Art and Tradition of Mizuhiki in Japan

By Staff Writer
May 31, 2024
In Japan, a centuries-old custom involves the utilization of Mizuhiki, which are traditional paper cords used for decorating gifts, envelopes, and various articles. Over time, Mizuhiki has progressed to incorporate elaborate knotting methods, enhancing its decorative appeal and enabling the portrayal of complex forms. Around 1915, Tsuda Sokichi, hailing from Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture, innovated a three-dimensional approach to wrapping washi paper and devised a method for crafting figural Mizuhiki, such as cranes, turtles, pine, bamboo, and plum motifs. These adorned betrothal gifts and gold seals marked the inception of Sokichi's decorated Mizuhiki tradition.
New Year decorations made from Mizuhiki
Sokichi's Mizuhiki gained attention, including recognition from the imperial family. His daughter, Ume Tsuda, inherited his technique and elevated it to the status of an admiration of traditional craft, known as Kaga Mizuhiki Zaiku. In contemporary times, Mizuhiki finds application in accessory design as well. It is a common practice for guests invited to celebratory occasions like weddings to enclose monetary gifts in envelopes fastened with Mizuhiki, thus upholding a widely recognized custom. Unlike the large, festive ribbons commonly seen in Western cultures, Mizuhiki evokes sentiments of attentiveness and consideration. Functioning as both a seal, ensuring the gift's integrity, and an amulet, safeguarding against negativity, Mizuhiki holds significant symbolism. Above all, the complex knots of Mizuhiki represent the bond between the giver and recipient, fostering enduring connections between them.
Gold and Red ornaments made from Mizuhiki
Cord decorations of cranes made from Mizuhiki
For ages, Mizuhiki has been integral to Japanese New Year festivities, embodying hopes and blessings for the coming year. It is used for traditional decorations including Shimekazari (sacred decorations made of rice straw), Kagami Mochi (rice cakes shaped like mirrors), and Kodamatsu (decorations made of pine and bamboo), as well as Pochibukuro envelopes for gifting money to children. Modern Japan embraces Mizuhiki in Christmas and New Year decorations, with cords fashioned into festive shapes like snowflakes and reindeer. DIY enthusiasts can craft Mizuhiki Christmas wreaths using cords in various hues and finishes.
Post your comments