The difference between Uchiwa and a Sensu(folding fan) is also in the choosing a spine
‘Ibasen’ has been manufacturing and selling Uchiwa, Sensu(folding fans), and other small items made of Japanese paper since the Edo period. We asked the 14th generation owner of the company, Nobuo Yoshida, about the different types of uchiwa. There are two types of fans: Kyo-Uchiwa and Edo-Uchiwa. Kyoto Uchiwa were used by court nobles and aristocrats, so each fan was hand-painted one by one, but Edo uchiwa were mass-produced using printing technology, so they can be used by ordinary people.”
What is the importance of "Ibasen-ness" of the products? “After all, it is a "chic" feeling.
Uchiwa and Sensu in Edo are mainly patterned with a sharp and clear Yoshiwara connection. The theme of the painting of a Kyoto Sensu is Kacho Fugetsu, and there are many lustrous atmospheres with its soft colors.”
There are different workshops to make Uchiwa and Sensu. Nowadays, Uchiwa and Sensu are not for ornamental purposes and it is important to be practical. The choice of the material is very special so that they do not break easily. “The Uchiwa workshop is located in Boshu(present-day southern Chiba Prefecture), while fans are mainly made in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Shiga. The bamboo used for the spine is completely different. The most suitable bamboo for uchiwa spine is the resilient bamboo from Tateyama in Chiba, but fans are made with more delicate techniques, so we need harder and more resilient bamboo.”
The best bamboo for fans comes from the Lake Biwa area of Shiga Prefecture, where the workshop is located. “It is important that the area is cold in winter and hot in summer. The spine of the Sensu needs to be hard and elastic enough to withstand the weight of the snow. On the other hand, if the bamboo used for the uchiwa is too hard, the wind will not come, so we use soft Tateyama bamboo.” The difference between the two is not known to many people. Please take the product in your hand and feel the difference.