KOYORI’s brand name was named after a Japanese word meaning 'twisted paper cords' and is the main material of Mizuhiki, the durable and decorative paper strings traditionally used in Japan for wrapping gifts, especially on festive and ceremonial occasions. We are going to delve into the history behind “Koyori” and "Mizuhiki" in forthcoming chapters of the KOYORI ANECDOTES.
Throughout ancient times, the Japanese people upheld the practice of presenting offerings to the divine by wrapping gifts in fabrics crafted from hemp or cotton. This ceremonial tradition gradually evolved into societal norms within Japan. When papermaking technology was introduced to the country, cotton, which had previously been processed into thread, transformed into a raw material for paper.
Paper was highly valuable and mainly used for writing official documents related to Shintoism and Buddhism. It was during the Heian period (794-1185) that this material began to gain popularity among the aristocrats. In addition to writing waka poems and diaries, paper began to serve a wide range of purposes in court life, including folding and wrapping. One of these purposes was the creation of Koyori. Among the aristocrats, there appeared to be a custom of sending letters to each other and sealing them by tying them with a Koyori string.
In addition to its role as a sealing tool for letters among aristocrats, the Koyori string has developed into two distinct forms: The first is known as "Mottoi/Motoyui", which is a type of Koyori string used to secure the hair of Sumo wrestlers. These strings must be robust and sturdy to prevent hair from coming loose during their matches. Maiko and geiko, who are professional entertainers skilled in traditional Japanese dances and singing, also utilize Koyori strings to fashion their traditional Japanese hairstyles.
The second form is called "Mizuhiki". Mizuhiki is crafted from Koyori strings that are glued and colored. Its origins can be traced back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573) when it emerged as a custom among Bushi soldiers. The various shapes and colors used in Mizuhiki each carry distinct meanings and have since become a long-standing practice.
Over time, the tying techniques evolved into three-dimensional and decorative forms, often representing symbols of good fortune like cranes, turtles, pine trees, bamboo, and plum trees. Even to this day, during the 20th century and beyond, Mizuhiki has become an industrial product, mass-produced in a wide range of colors and shapes, serving various decorative purposes in our daily lives.
Mizuhiki serves a dual purpose in Japanese tradition: not only does it secure gift wrappings, but it also conveys the emotions of the giver through its intricate knots. Once tied, the knot symbolizes an unbreakable connection, embodying the profound significance of human relationships and interconnectedness.
The diverse shapes and colors of Mizuhiki hold symbolic meanings that have endured through time. For significant events like weddings, where the symbolism of permanence is treasured, the 'musubi-kiri' knot signifies an unbreakable bond once secured. Conversely, for occasions such as childbirth or traditional festivals, where joy is cyclical, the 'hana-musubi' (butterfly knot) symbolizes the wish for continued happiness as it can be untied and retied.
Our brand, KOYORI, derives its name from the material used in Mizuhiki. Each strand of Koyori, though seemingly small, forms a robust bond when interlaced, symbolizing our close alliance with manufacturers and collaborative designers. We together strive to deliver furniture and interior accessories made in Japan of unwavering quality and timeless designs that transcend cultural boundaries.