Sky blue ocean waves. Yellow chrysanthemum buds. A tidy row of tiny green hexagons. Welcome to the technicolor world of Japanese washi tape.
Perhaps you’ve encountered washi tape on a care package sent by an overseas friend or in a loved one’s scrapbook. Or you’ve seen the brightly-colored rolls on craft store shelves and wondered how to use them. Whether you’re a natural hobbyist or dabbling in crafting for the first time, there’s certainly a place for Japanese washi tape in your creative routine.
This guide to washi tape will help you introduce it into your existing craft projects — or to use it to start a new hobby entirely.
What Is Washi Tape?
Washi tape is a decorative, multipurpose masking tape that comes in an array of brightly-colored patterns. It is often used for papercraft projects, such as bookbinding, scrapbooking or journaling, but there are many other creative ways to use it around the home. (We’ll get to those in a minute.) The joyful patterns and colors of washi tape nod to traditional washi paper, which has existed in Japan for centuries, where it is used for origami and in Japanese screens and lamps.
While washi paper has a long history, washi tape is a relatively recent phenomenon in Japan. It was invented in 2006 by Kamoi Kakoshi Co., a maker of industrial tape and insect traps, after it received an email from a group of women who had started using masking tape in their bookmaking projects. Delighted by their creativity, Kamoi Kakoshi invited them to visit the factory and asked them for their thoughts on creating a new kind of crafting tape. The rest is history. Today, you can find washi paper worldwide — in Japanese import stores, paper goods shops and even large chain stores.
Washi Tape Uses
So, you’re ready to dive into a washi tape project — where should you start? As a general rule of thumb, use washi tape anywhere that could benefit from a pop of color or joy-sparking pattern (which is almost everywhere!) or anywhere you would normally use tape. Here are a few of KonMari’s favorite uses for Japanese washi tape:
Organizing and Labeling Storage Bins
Part of tidying using the KonMari Method™ includes giving every item, big or small, a designated home. After placing office supplies or komono in containers, use washi tape as a joy-sparking alternative to traditional label makers. You can also use washi tape to write your child’s name on their lunch bento box, so it will always find its way back home from school.
Journaling and Scrapbooking
Recording memories doesn’t mean putting only black pen to white paper. Add some color to your journal with washi tape, which you can use to tape snapshots, ticket stubs or travel postcards into entries alongside your written thoughts.
Sending Snail Mail
When was the last time you sent a loved one a card just to say hello? Write them a note or build them a small care package, taping the envelope or box with washi tape. They’ll know something special awaits as soon as it arrives.
Decorating Objects and Tech Accessories
Think beyond paper projects. Use washi tape to decorate planters, class notebooks or pencil cases. You can even use it to decorate computer monitors, cell phone chargers, earbud cases or laptop covers to make it easy to keep track of which tech accessories belong to you. These crafting projects will provide hours of joy for the whole family, including young kids and even teenagers.
At KonMari, we love wrapping gifts in furoshiki because the traditional wrapping cloth is a gift in itself. Another of our favorite approaches: Using washi paper to pretty up gift bags or boxes. Try wrapping a gift in recycled newspaper or simple parchment paper, then sealing it with your favorite patterned washi tape. The wrapping paper will feel as unique as the gift inside!
Leaving Notes of Gratitude
Before leaving the house for work, tape a surprise note for your partner or children on the kitchen fridge or front door expressing gratitude for having them in your life. These simple gestures make joy-sparking memories.