18 Best Japanese Folding Fans - From Traditional to Cutting-Edge

Japanese folding fans, known as sensu, are not only functional but also works of art that showcase the elegance and beauty of Japanese culture. In this article, we will explore 18 amazing Japanese folding fans,...

Japanese folding fans, known as sensu, are not only functional but also works of art that showcase the elegance and beauty of Japanese culture. In this article, we will explore 18 amazing Japanese folding fans, ranging from the traditional to the cutting-edge, from different regions of Japan. Whether you are a fan enthusiast or simply appreciate the artistry behind these fans, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

What to Look for in Japanese Folding Fans

While all Japanese folding fans are called sensu, different regions have their own unique production methods, designs, and characteristics. Let's delve into the main ones to help you find a fan that captures your interest.

Kyo-Sensu (Kyoto)

RAKUSHIKI URUSHI TEA | RAKUKEI | KYOTO FOLDING FAN RAKUSHIKI URUSHI TEA | RAKUKEI | KYOTO FOLDING FAN

As the name suggests, Kyo-Sensu is mainly made in Kyoto. It is important to note that only members of the Kyoto Folding Fan & Round Fan Association of Commerce and Industry are allowed to use the name "Kyo-Sensu."

  • Characteristics: Kyo-Sensu is constructed using a larger number of thin bamboo sticks, with narrow folds between the ribs.
  • Feminine Appeal: Kyo-Sensu has a fine and delicate structure, appealing to women.
  • Production Method: The production of Kyo-Sensu involves division of labor, with different craftspeople specializing in each stage.

Originally designed for women, Kyo-Sensu now offers a wide range of designs that also appeal to men. These fans are perfect for dancing, tea ceremonies, and other occasions where elegance is desired.

Edo-Sensu (Tokyo)

YURI BOILED BLACK | UNKINDO FUKATSU HAND FAN | EDO FOLDING FAN YURI BOILED BLACK | UNKINDO FUKATSU HAND FAN | EDO FOLDING FAN

Edo-Sensu fans are known for their wide folds and bold designs painted on their large surfaces.

  • Characteristics: Edo-Sensu has fewer but thicker sticks compared to Kyo-Sensu.
  • Made for Men: Designed for the presentable and sophisticated Edokko, residents of Tokyo with a sense of style and justice.
  • Production Method: Each fan is made entirely by a single craftsperson.

Edo-Sensu fans are durable and produce a distinct "clink" sound when opened and closed. They are suitable for both men and women and make a fashionable accessory for any occasion.

Nagoya-Sensu (Aichi)

Nagoya-Sensu

Nagoya-Sensu fans are primarily produced in Nagoya and are mainly used for celebrations and ceremonies, with designs featuring darker shades or clear and striking colors.

  • Characteristics: Nagoya-Sensu fans often feature darker shades or clear and striking colors.
  • Uses: Commonly used for celebrations and ceremonies, with a focus on designs for men.

Nagoya-Sensu fans are known for their vibrant colors and are often considered lucky charms. They add an element of festivity to any occasion.

Omi-Sensu (Shiga)

Many fans produced in different regions of Japan feature sticks from Shiga (formerly known as Omi), making the Omi-Sensu a significant fan style in the country.

  • Characteristics: There are only a few shops that sell Omi-Sensu fans nationwide.
  • Fan Sticks: Most folding fans in Japan use sticks from Shiga Prefecture.

While Shiga is renowned for its production of fan frames and sticks, there are also long-established companies that produce the Omi-Sensu fans themselves. These fans are a fusion of traditional craft and modern design.

BECOS x tsunagu Japan's Top 3 Japanese Folding Fan Picks

Unkindo Fukatsu Hand Fan (Tokyo) Unkindo Fukatsu Hand Fan (Tokyo)

Located in the Arakawa ward of Tokyo, Unkindo is a shop specializing in Edo-Sensu fans with a rich history dating back 150 years.

  • Recommended Unkindo Fukatsu Hand Fan #1 - Chic and Bright: A Fan with Two Sides

This Edo-Sensu fan features different colors on both sides, with a chic ash pattern on one side and a gentle blue-green on the other. It serves as a sophisticated accessory suitable for any occasion.

  • Recommended Unkindo Fukatsu Hand Fan #2 - Charming and Calming Purple, The Fan for Any Occasion

This fan is adorned with a "hiware" pattern, depicting ice cracks, which helps to cool off in the summer. The soothing purple color makes it an excellent choice for women, and it pairs well with modern outfits.

Onishi Tsune Shoten (Kyoto) Onishi Tsune Shoten (Kyoto)

Onishi Tsune Shoten is a long-established fan shop in Kyoto renowned for its commitment to preserving tradition while incorporating new designs.

  • Recommended Onishi Tsune Shoten Fan #1 - Masculine Fan For Business Occasions

This Kyo-Sensu fan consists of three layers of thin washi paper, with subdued colors and an intricate design. It is perfect for business settings and offers a touch of elegance on hot summer nights.

  • Recommended Onishi Tsune Shoten Fan #2 - Fresh, Modern, and Scented

This unisex fan emits a gentle, delicate fragrance with every wave. Its compact size makes it easy to carry, and the bright color gradient is inspired by nature and the changing seasons. The fragrance can be easily reapplied, ensuring years of enjoyment.

Yasuto Yonehara (Kyoto) Yasuto Yonehara (Kyoto)

Yasuto Yonehara is a cutting-edge fan brand with a focus on expressing Japanese identity and preserving traditional fan-making techniques.

  • Recommended Yasuto Yonehara Fan #1 - Gold Leaf on White

This Kyo-Sensu fan is inspired by the brilliance of the Milky Way. It features a subtle Japanese fragrance and an air of luxury with its radiant gold leaf design. It adds sophistication to any wardrobe.

  • Recommended Yasuto Yonehara Fan #2 - A Beautiful Fan with Elegant Turquoise Coloring

This fan brings a touch of sophistication to everyday looks. The luxurious item is meticulously crafted and features a unique shape inspired by silk fans developed in France. It is considered a lucky charm and makes an ideal gift.

Top 6 Japanese Folding Fans

Featuring Kanazawa Gold Leaf - Hakuichi (Ishikawa)

Hakuichi is a folding fan brand established in 1975, known for its fans featuring luxurious Kanazawa gold leaf, a traditional craft of Ishikawa Prefecture.

  • A Story Woven in Gold Leaf - The Ephemeral Galaxy

Hakuichi transformed Kanazawa gold leaf into personal craft items, showcasing the beauty of traditional crafts. This fan adorned with a galaxy pattern evokes the glimmering Milky Way and adds an enchanting touch to any collection.

  • Elevating the Fan with Gold Leaf - An Elegant Mix of Kanazawa Gold Leaf and Subdued Colors

This gold leaf-accented fan exudes elegance with its soft color base. The design is reminiscent of the faint moon shining at daybreak, offering a sophisticated aesthetic. It is a perfect gift for any occasion.

The Kaga Yuzen Tradition at Work - Some no Shiki (Ishikawa)

Some no Shiki creatively utilizes the 500-year-old tradition of Kaga Yuzen dyeing, known for producing exquisite kimono fabrics.

  • Using Kaga Yuzen For Folding Fans - The Full Moon and the Owl

This hand-painted fan features an owl and the moon, symbolizing the changing of seasons. It showcases the beauty of Kaga Yuzen techniques and captures the gentle movements of nature.

  • Using Kaga Yuzen For Folding Fans - Soft, Ambient Gradation

Some no Shiki fans utilize a unique color gradation technique, capturing Japan's subtle transitions of nature. This beautifully colored fan suits both men and women, adding elegance and a sense of calmness to any ensemble.

Traditional Stores Committed to Kyo-Sensu - Miyawaki Baisenan (Kyoto)

Miyawaki Baisenan is a specialized folding fan shop established in 1823. With a reputation for crafting fans that blend artistry and practicality, their fans are both convenient and pleasing to the touch.

  • Modern Impressions - A Fashionable Fan

This Kyo-Sensu fan, designed in collaboration with RAKUKEI, features a traditional pattern with a modern and chic feel. It is perfect for adding a touch of fashion to any occasion.

  • Traditional Stores Committed to Kyo-Sensu - Capturing the Atmosphere of Kyoto

Miyawaki Baisenan's collaboration with RAKUKEI resulted in a Kyo-Sensu fan that embodies the essence of Kyoto's cityscape. Its lacquered folds and beautiful colors exude a sense of pride and tranquility.

Traditional Store, New Techniques - Yamani (Kyoto)

Yamani is a Kyo-Sensu fan brand established 300 years ago, known for its traditional techniques and commitment to innovation.

  • Embodying the Elegance of History and Experience - Cute Yet Mature: Ladies Cloth Folding Fan "Hana-Tsubaki"

Yamani offers a wide range of fans that are both durable and affordable. This round fan with camellias is perfect for beginners and adds a touch of elegance to any outfit.

A Folding Fan Brand With 1,200 Years of History - Maisendo (Kyoto)

Maisendo has preserved the Kyoto aesthetic for over 1,200 years, giving shape to the delicate beauty of the city's four seasons.

  • Designs Refined With Time - Furinkazan: Finding Beauty in the Edges

Maisendo's fans feature classical patterns that require skill and experience. The simplicity of their designs and timeless appeal make them treasured pieces.

Popular Japanese Designs From Traditional Fan Makers - Nishikawa Shoroku Shoten (Shiga)

Nishikawa Shoroku Shoten, founded in 1585, offers a wide range of fans with unique designs and a warm spirit of Japanese culture.

  • Tradition Is Its Reputation - Eye-Catching Gradation

Nishikawa Shoroku Shoten's high-quality paper fans feature stunning gradations. The sticks are dyed to create better color shading, and the thin line painted along the edge adds a refined touch.

Buy Your Own Japanese Folding Fan!

Many of the fans mentioned in this article, including those from long-established shops, can be purchased online. Shopping for fans online can be overwhelming, but this guide will help you find a fan that suits your style and preferences. As you explore the sophisticated and elegant world of Japanese folding fans, you will experience the artistic essence of Japanese culture.

These products may not be available for shipping to certain countries. Please visit the retailer's website for more information.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

Related articles:

  • The Many Examples of Japanese Craftwork
  • The Complete Guide to Traditional Japanese Crafts

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