The Japanese Fan

The Japanese Fan

The use of fans in Japan dates back to the 6th century CE where murals on burial tombs showed drawings of fans.

The flat fan or uchiwa is thought to have been originally introduced from Korea.  Sumo wrestling uses a special version of the flat fan called gumbai uchiwa which is used by the gyoji (referee).   It is derived from the war fans used by generals to command their armies and in some cases was also used as a weapon.

The folding fan, sensu, or ogi is said to be a Japanese invention which originated in Kyoto about 670 AD.  It is made of paper and bamboo.  Those made with white paper were used by the aristocracy to inscribe love poems and the fan was then presented to their beloved.  Devoted Buddhists used the same fans to inscribe Sutras, so that they were always at hand.

When wearing Japanese clothes on ceremonial occasions a sensu is considered an indispensable part of the wardrobe.  The sensu is always used in Japanese dances such as kagura, noh, kabuki and is carried by singers of classical Japanese songs such as nagauta, gidayu.  It is used to great effect in rakugo (comic story telling). 

Although fans were mainly used for social and court activities they were also used in the military as a way of sending signals on the field of battle,

At Kasasagi Gallery we have a collection of Woodblock Prints depicting Noh and Kabuki plays.  We also have a selection of Vintage and Antique Japanese Handmade and Hand Painted Fans which are framed and mounted on handmade washi paper and acid free backing, making them a unique piece of art.

We also have Fan Prints as well as Noh and Kagura Masks.


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