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A typical Kendo-style tenugui

A tenugui (手拭い), literally "hand-wiper", is a thin Japanese hand towel made from cotton. Typically, tenugui are about 35 by 90 centimetres (14 by 35 in) in size, plain woven, and almost always dyed with some pattern. Usually the long sides are finished with a selvage, while the short sides are left unfinished to allow fraying.[1]

A tenugui may be used as a flannel (washcloth) or dishcloth.[2][3] They are often used as headbands, souvenirs, decorations, or for wrapping bottles and similar items.[4] Towels made from terry cloth have largely replaced tenugui in household use.[citation needed] However, tenugui are still popular as souvenirs, decorations, and as a head covering in kendo, where it functions as a sweatband and provides extra padding beneath the headgear (men).[5]


  1. ^ Rich (7 May 2014). "Tenugui: A Cloth Without Limits". Tofugu. Tofugu LLC. Archived from the original on 21 June 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  2. ^ Bloom, Gary. "What Is a Tenugui". Kyoto Collection. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  3. ^ "How to use Tenugui: Let's use it in the kitchen". Kamawanu (in Japanese). Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  4. ^ "Choosing a Japanese Tenugui Towel". Japan Objects. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  5. ^ The Official Guide for Kendo Instruction (2nd ed.). All Japan Kendo Federation. 10 March 2020. p. 183.

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