about modern wrapping.
If you find yourself at a supermarket checkout in Japan, you might notice that it is not uncommon for the clerk to take each of your already wrapped/contained items (carton of milk, bag of lettuce, plastic container of pickled plums), and wrap them for a second time.
Frist and foremost, what a horrible and pointless overuse of plastic. However, guiltily, I also find the process to be fascinating and somehow ceremonial. As if each item were a treasure to be carefully handled and wrapped in an additional layer of soft, almost transparent plastic.
When I look inside my shopping bag full of groceries, I see what looks like a soft skyscape. Air is trapped inside each of the plastic bags, which have then been pressed together inside their carrier, creating a ballooning effect. The fresh green leaves of the lettuce and the bright blue carton of milk now appear softened because of the space that has been captured inside their additional layers.
I am struck with the question that I have so often been left wondering during my time in Japan: What is the reason for such unusual behavior?
These items are already perfectly packaged and contained, what use are their new coverings?
I think about the images that lie inside the pages of my much-loved copy of 'How to Wrap Five Eggs,' and of how charming the traditional packages and wrappings documented are. But were they charming then as they are now?
With time, everyday habits and processes that were once considered mundane, become fascinating, they become something worth thinking about and documenting. These everyday habits become even more intriguing when they belong to a culture different from your own.
Perhaps this behavior is the new approach to a habit that has long existed? Perhaps the plastic bag is the replacement of the bamboo leaf and the sheet of washi?