A closer look at one of Japan’s most popular souvenir brands of fans

Japan has a culture of folding fans.
The folding fan was developed in the early Nara period (710-794). Fans in the Nara period were made of thin wooden boards stacked on top of each other and were called Hi-ougi(檜扇).
At that time, fans were not intended to create wind by fanning, but were used as a tool to write letters, like a notebook. The content was mostly the order of rituals and ceremonies.
In the middle of the Heian period (794-1185), Kawahori-ougi(蝙蝠扇), which was made by pasting paper on several bamboos, was born.
From the Kamakura period to the Muromachi period (1333-1573), various cultures such as Noh, Kyogen, Japanese dance(Nihon-buyo), and Kabuki flourished, and fans were used in each of these fields.
In the Warring States Period, trade with Portugal began and Japanese items were exported to Europe. Then, Spanish and French aristocrats began to patronize Japanese fans.

In Kyoto, there is a long-established brand that makes folding fans. It is “Hakuchikudo(白竹堂)”.
Hakuchikudo continues to meet the current needs of its customers while carrying on the traditions and techniques.
Hakuchikudo mainly produces “Kyosensu(京扇子)” among fans.
There are 88 processes before a fan is completed, most of which are painstakingly made by hand by craftsmen.

Autor: Wakako Yamaoto

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