Washi Tape: What is Washi Tape & How Do You Use It?

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Cat Washi Tape from Etsy Seller dadastickers

If you spend much time in craft stores, stationery stores, or Japanese gift shops, you’ve probably seen washi tape and wondered what it is or what it’s for. Conversely, you might have heard the name, but not made the connection with what it is.

What is Washi Tape?

Washi tape is a decorative adhesive tape that’s sort of like masking tape, but much, much better. It’s made from natural fibers like ganpi, mistumata, kozo, or even hemp, but it can actually be made from almost any plant.

Unlike a lot of plastic-based tapes, washi tape is renewable and biodegradable. Though it’s durable and waterproof, you can tear it by hand. In most cases, you can peel it off a surface and re-use it.

Of course, the most important thing about washi tape is that it’s beautiful. It comes in almost every imaginable color and pattern, allowing you to quickly and easily add a decorative flair to almost anything.

How Do You Use Washi Tape?

While there’s no wrong way to use washi tape, it does lend itself to some things better than others.

  • You can use washi tape in scrapbooks to tape things down, add decorative stripes, or otherwise brighten up a page.
  • Washi tape pairs very well with giftwrap, especially solid-colored giftwrap or giftwrap with simple patterns. No one will notice your terrible wrapping job because they’ll be too busy looking at the pretty washi tape.
  • Because washi tape peels off and re-sticks easily, it can be great for making pretty wall art. That’s especially true if you’re renting and you can’t paint or nail anything to the wall.
  • Use washi tape to make a pretty photo or poster frame – just tape around the edges with your desired pattern, and you’ve got an instant frame.
  • Boring notebook? Take your plain, solid-colored notebook from bland to brilliant with a bit of artfully-applied washi tape.
  • Add washi tape to your laptop or musical instrument case to stand out from the crowd.
  • Use washi tape on a bit of cardboard to make pretty bookmarks.
  • For quick, affordable nail art, trim washi tape to the shape of your nails and stick on. No need to spend hours trying to delicately paint on a design when you can get the look in minutes with washi tape.
  • Transform boring office supplies (especially pens and pencils) with a bit of pretty washi tape.
  • Cut wide washi tape into shapes for quick, DIY stickers.
  • Need little flags for sandwiches or cupcakes? You can use toothpicks and a bit of washi tape to make bright, attractive flags at a far cheaper cost than buying paper flags at the store.
  • Color your computer keyboard. If you have a chiclet-style keyboard on your laptop, you can cut washi tape to the shape of your keys and give it a fun, unique look.
  • Make pretty twist ties for closing bags. If you’re doing grab bags or snack bags at a party, you can take a bit of wire, cover it in washi tape, and you instantly have decorative twist ties.

Where Can You Buy Washi Tape?

These days, pretty much any craft or stationery store will have washi tape, but we find that some of the loveliest and most delicate designs come from Japanese import shops or online marketplaces (as opposed to big chain stores).

The main thing you’ll want to check is that you’re getting actual washi tape rather than a cheap plastic imitation. If you get something more like duct tape or masking tape, it won’t have the same properties as real washi tape, and it probably won’t be made of natural materials.

Some of Our Favorite Unique & Pretty Washi Tape Rolls

The options for pretty washi tape are endless, but here are a few of our favorites to help you get inspired.

Cherry Blossom Washi Tape from Etsy Seller PinkyElephantCraft

This cherry blossom washi tape has a traditional, delicate look.

Anime Washi Tape from Papercraftee

If you prefer a bolder look, you can also get washi tape featuring your favorite anime. These patterns come from Etsy seller Papercraftee.

Sushi Washi Tape from jasmineflowerco on Etsy

This fun and functional sushi-inspired washi tape is both colorful and hunger-inducing. You can get it here on Etsy.