Origin of the Wet Towel

Origin of the Wet Towel

19th
October
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Being handed a wet towel in an establishment is usually seen as being fancy or upper class. The first time you may be quite confused as to what to do, but eventually you’ll get the hang of unwrapping and using this damp, often scented cotton or non woven material to clean your face and hands.

But where did this trend originate? Well it comes from a common tradition in Japan where the towels are called “oshibori” meaning wet towel. They are often handed out before or after meals to clean the hands and occasionally the face.

Oshibori may be served hot or cold depending on the season. In the winter they are often served warm for comfort, and in the summer served cold to refresh the user. It is a very common practice in Japan and China to distribute the towels rolled up or folded in a log shape, or disposable towels folded and wrapped in thin plastic when sold with “bento” or lunch boxes at convenience stores.

Now the western world is finally catching onto this trend, finding that the oshibori or as we know it, the wet towel, can be used in our society too. In restaurants they can be used much the same as they are in Japan and we also have our own beneficial uses to them. These inexpensive towels are now used places such as in spas, salons, dentists, hotels, airlines, fitness centres and much more.

So next time you spot a wet towel at an establishment, remember that this now popular trend has actually originated from simple Japanese culture.

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