Saturday, February 14, 2015

etegami sachets

Japan has many ways to enjoy incense, but I've always been particularly intrigued with fumikou, the fragrant folded-paper sachets that are slipped into envelopes along with letters, and which release their soothing scents when the recipients open the envelopes. These paper sachets can be purchased at incense shops or you can make them yourself, but I had been wondering how to apply the aesthetic of fumikou to etegami, which, as you know, are traditionally sent as postcards without envelopes.

I have quite a stockpile of incense in stick or cone form. I keep them in a drawer with my tablecloths, cloth napkins, and place mats to which they add a dreamy old-Japan aroma, but I seldom burn them because the smoke aggravates my husband's asthma.

So I ground up some rather old incense cones, placed a tiny pile of the powder on one of my etegami cards, and glued a hand-torn washi heart over the top of the powder. The result was okay, but the powder was not as tightly sealed under the heart as I would have liked, probably because of the bumpy, fibrous quality of the hand-made card I used.

In my next attempt, I tore out two hearts of roughly the same size and sealed the powdered incense between them before gluing the heart "sandwich" onto one of my usual even-surfaced cards. I liked the results better this time, and did it again with a third etegami sachet depicting a tree spirit, which was inspired by the foresty-scent of the incense.

In spite of my original intentions, I don't think these will survive the postal service unless they are sent in envelopes. I will have to experiment a lot more before I can produce an etegami sachet that can be sent "naked" in the mail.

my first attempt

my second and third attempts


  1. It's an interesting idea. When I was little my grandma showed me how she used to spray perfume on her love letters. Now she's gone and I can't ask -- who were you sending love letters to?! Both cards are adorable, and especially loving the phytoncide :)

  2. What a fantastic idea with sachets and powdered scent!