The Appeal of Uchiwa and Sensu to the World
“Ibasen" has a 400 year history in Nihonbashi as a long-established Uchiwa fan and Sensu(folding fan) shop. The owner, Nobuo Yoshida, has seen firsthand the changes in the fan market over the past few years. “Five or six years ago, you weren't allowed to use a fan when watching a world-class tennis tournament because the flapping of the fans distracted the players, so anything that moved was prohibited. However in two years, the heat increased due to global warming, so fans have been available."
“We are now making fans for the FC Tokyo stadium as cheering souvenirs. Next year, the sunlight is going to be stronger, so we are going to develop Uchiwa and Sensu made of UV-cut cloth.” In response to the demand, the company is actively working on developing new products.
Nihonbashi in Chuo Ward is visited by many tourists from overseas who are interested in traditional crafts. What kind of products do they find attractive? “The most popular products are sensu with ukiyoe patterns, such as Katsushika Hokusai's "Namiura" and "Red Fuji. People tend to be interested in things that give a Japanese feeling to them. Collaboration products with characters such as Doraemon are also popular.”
Uchiwa and Sensu are attracting attention from overseas, and the demand for them is expanding in Japan as well. “Recently, high school and university students going to fireworks festivals have been asking for them, which is very grateful. Young people seem to use them as accessories rather than as fans, and the small ones are very popular. You can choose a size that fits in the back of your yukata or in your bag. Since the yukata and the fan come as a set, you can choose the fan, the same pattern as the yukata as well. There is also a Uchiwa that is made in collaboration with a yukata by "竺仙(chikusen)".” More and more people are wearing matching yukata with stylish fans and enjoying summer to the fullest. There may be more and more people like that in the future.