In Japanese, TENUGUI means "wiping hands." So the size and shape of the fabric used for TENUGUI is similar to a hand towel.
Many years ago, TENUGUI could be found in most households because it was so useful. TENUGUI can be used as a head cover, similar to a bandana, or a kitchen duster, apron and even as a baby nappy.
In addition to its many household uses, TENUGUI is also used as a fashion accessory. Once Kabuki actors started to have TENUGUIS with their own logo or designs, the popularity of TENUGUI increased dramatically. As far back as 200 years ago, there were TENUGUI competitions around Japan. One of the more famouse Ukiyoe painters held a competition and many people entered their own designs. This is why TENUGUI can be found in a variety of designs and is very popular as souvenir.
Much like FUROSHIKI, TENUGUI was replaced by modern convenience as plastic bags, backpacks, and terry cloth towels came into wider use. The use of TENUGUI almost disappeared from Japanese daily life and many people born after the 1960's may not have any memories of TENUGUI.