folding fan(扇子)

folding fan(扇子)

Japanese folding fans, known as “sensu” or “ougi,” are traditional cultural items used to send the breeze, combining aesthetic elements with practicality. These fans are deeply rooted in Japanese history and culture, serving important roles in various settings. They are used for sitting on tatami mats, during festivals, traditional ceremonies, and theatrical performances, among other occasions.

folding fan(扇子)

Folding fans are typically made with a bamboo frame and covered with washi paper or silk fabric. They come in diverse designs and materials that vary according to the season and purpose. The handles and motifs on these fans often reflect Japan’s sense of beauty and history, featuring themes such as flowers, birds, natural scenes, mythology, and characters from Kabuki theater. Fans are also widely used as gifts and souvenirs, particularly popular for weddings and New Year’s celebrations.


Applications of Japanese Fans

Cooling Device

Japanese fans are commonly used to circulate air and provide relief, especially during the hot summer months in Japan. They are a common sight in everyday life and summer festivals, offering not only cooling but also the enjoyment of their beautiful designs, making them beloved by many.

Performing Arts and Traditional Ceremonies

Fans play an indispensable role in traditional Japanese performing arts such as Kabuki and Noh, helping express roles and scenes. They are also commonly used in traditional ceremonies like weddings and shrine festivals, often integrated with a sense of sacredness.

Fashion Accessory

Fans are used to accessorize with traditional Japanese clothing like kimono and yukata, adding a stylish element to the ensemble. Different fan designs can be chosen to match the season and occasion.

Art Pieces

Many Japanese artists use fans as their canvas to create unique artwork. These artistic fans are highly regarded and can be found in museums and private collections.

Specialized Fan Stores


Hakuchikudo is a historic fan store in Kyoto, established over 290 years ago during the Edo period. They offer a wide range of fans, from traditional Kyoto-style fans made by artisans to modern and playful designs. They also provide fan painting experiences and customization with laser engraving, making them popular as gifts.

Official Website: Hakuchikudo – Kyoto’s Traditional Fan Maker and Seller Since 1718(japanese)


Matsuneya, founded in 1914 in Tokyo, specializes in fans, folding fans, and calendars. They are particularly known for their “suehiro” fans, considered lucky charms for events like weddings and long life celebrations. Matsuneya also offers custom branding and has a contemporary brand called “松扇堂” that incorporates modern designs into their fans.

Official Website: Matsuneya – Tokyo’s Fan Specialty Store in Taito Ward, Asakusabashi(japanese)


Ibasen is a long-standing fan store with a history dating back over 400 years. They initially dealt in paper, bamboo products, and Japanese paper in the Edo period. In the later Edo period, they began producing traditional folding fans with popular ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) designs. They now offer Edo-style fans, decorative fans, and uchiwa (rigid fans).

Ibasen is a long-established store of folding fans and fans. Ukiyo-e publisher Nihonbashi Kobunecho(en)

These brands uphold the tradition and aesthetics of Japanese fans while meeting contemporary demands, earning widespread appreciation for their uniqueness and quality.

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