Rediscovering the Secret Japanese Square Lashing

One of the very first times, if not the first time that the Japanese Square lashing appeared in print was in John Thurman’s Pioneering Principles in 1962. John Thurman was an influential British Scouter who discovered the lashing while on a tour of Japan, hence the name.

This lashing deserves rediscovering! It can shave minutes of time off your normal square lashing tying time. It is easy to to tie, easy to learn, and very secure. In fact, although I still practice and use the traditional square lashing, I have found myself using the Japanese square lashing more and more in place of it.

This is just a fantastic and robust lashing, and I am excited to share it with you today. The pictures and instructions come out of John Thurman’s book.

In order to follow the directions and learn this lashing, you will need to know how to tie the traditional square lashing first and know what the terms ‘wrapping’, ‘frapping’, and etc. mean. So, without further ado, the Japanese Square Lashing! 


How to start. – (no knot – not even mirrors)! You may have wondered what we are going to start with if not with the clove hitch, and the somewhat surprising and true answer is “With no knot at all”. You take an ordinary lashing, preferably one about 30% longer than you would use for the traditional square lashing, and you use it as a double rope. Begin by passing the bight (which forms automatically if you halve the rope) round the lower spar and then with the two parts of the lashing side by side and never over-riding take two complete turns round both spars as for square lashing.
How to Frap. – Then take the two parts of the double rope and make frapping turns by taking the two ropes between the spars in opposite directions. One of the great advantages is that it is easier to pull these frapping turns really tight, far tighter than when you are pulling round in one direction only, and you have the added power of the two ropes pulling against each other.
How to Finish. – Two or three frapping turns are sufficient and then you finish the lashing by joining the two running ends together with a reef knot, tucking in the ends, and the job is done.

Note that when Thurman says “reef knot”, all he is talking about is the square knot. “Reef knot” is the British term for the square knot.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post on the Japanese Square lashing. Didn’t quite understand the directions? Have questions? Post a comment and I will be glad to answer to the best of my ability.

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Scout on, my friends!

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3 Comments on "Rediscovering the Secret Japanese Square Lashing"

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Cubmaster Brown

Thank you for putting together this excellent site. I don’t have the history in scouting that you do, but I am enjoying the experience with my son who is a Webelos.


Thanks for visiting the website! If you have any questions about anything on the site, feel free to ask! Thanks for commenting! My passion for Scouting was really started by visiting some websites on historical scouting. I am hoping that this site can do the same for others.


Excellent tutorial. I think the secret to this getting tighter than the usual square lash is definitely the frap in opposite directions. Awesome.