Why is handkerchief so popular in Japan?

by Jeanette Kanaguri

Handkerchief in Japan

Why is handkerchief so popular in Japan? なぜハンカチは日本でそんなに人気があるのですか?

Dear Sweetheart,

How’re you?

You may ask me why I always create a handkerchief (ハンケチ) or (teal-towel – 布巾) with Sashiko (刺し子), the Japanese stitching technique.

My Story: Why is handkerchief so popular in Japan?

It was around 1. December in Denmark. I asked my boyfriend, now husband, what he wished for Christmas. He said: “A handkerchief”. “Hmmm…really, ok”, I said.

I went to a big department store in Copenhagen and looked for a handkerchief. It was hard to find one. Eventually, I found a few selections of handkerchief from the brand called Ralph Lauren. I remember they costed around 100 EUR for one piece. I didn’t buy one, because I thought it was too expensive.

Now, many years has passed since that Christmas. And for 8 years ago when I lived in Japan and discovered the Japanese culture, I explored the Japanese tradition for handkerchief.

Handkerchief in Japan

When you enter a department store in Japan, there’s usually, I big section only with handkerchief. There’re so many different types. They all varies in material, color, and design. Most of them are made of 100% cotton, and are so soft. And they’re the ones designed for men and ones for women.

The price of a handkerchief is only around 10 EUR for one piece. Many women also offer a handkerchief for their girlfriends as a gift.

Why is handkerchief so popular in Japan?

The Japanese people use a handkerchief for so many things/reasons. Most Japanese women, girls always carry a handkerchief in their handbag/school bag. They use it when they go the public toilet, to wipe off any sweat in their face in summertime, to wipe their body and bag if it suddenly start raining, as a napkin during lunch, or when enjoying sweets outside, at weddings, at funerals etc.

Many Japanese men also bring a handkerchief with them in their briefcase, or their small handbag in the weekends. They use it, especially in summertime, to wipe off the sweat in their face because of the high humidity in Japan.

Myself, I purchased many different kinds of handkerchief when I lived Japan. And now, when I live in Germany, I always try to remember to bring one with me, as I know how nice it is. However, it’s not the culture here, so sometimes I forget.

How’s it in your country? Do you bring a handkerchief with you when you leave your home?

I would love to hear from. And thank you for reading my post.

With love,


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Handkerchief in Japan

Handkerchief in Japan

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