Boshu Rigid Fans
The making of rigid fans in the Kanto area centered on Edo (Tokyo), began sometime during the Edo period (1600-1868), when the nearby province of Boshu was producing quantities of bamboo for fans. The actual making of what has come to be known as the Boshu rigid fan, however, started sometime toward the end of the 1870s and by 1884, these fans were the biggest selling item produced in the area's Awa county.
Along with the rigid fans from the old capital of Kyoto and Marugame on the island of Shikoku, Boshu Uchiwa are one of the three top fans in the country, and they are still being produced to this day in the south of this old province.
The ribs of these rigid fans are made from a good quality bamboo called medake (Pleioblastus simonii), while the bow at the base of the paddle is made of another called madake (Phyllostachys bambusoides). Compared to the Kyo Uchiwa, which has a connected handle and the flat-handled Marugame Uchiwa, the fans from Boshu have round handles and a robust fan-shaped arrangement of ribs giving them their own brand of elegance.
The ribs, in fact, are made by finely splitting a single narrow culm (stem) of bamboo and spreading them out into a fan-shape, to which some handmade Japanese paper, silk or cotton is carefully attached before an edge is fashioned and the butt of the handle is painted.
A readily available source of very flexible, good quality medake used for these fans was growing in the area and their production provided a welcome source of income from a ""cottage industry"" for the wives and daughters of local fishermen. It was from these simple beginnings that the industry developed. The result of this highly skilled and delicate work is a craftwork, which is both strong and beautiful to behold.
Using high-quality medake bamboo for the frame and handle, and madake bamboo for the fan, the sturdy, round shape of Boshu Uchiwa fans as compared to the square shape of Kyoto fans or wide Marugame Uchiwa (round fans), possess a special beauty.
How to make
A single, round culm (stem) of medake is carefully split and used to make the frame of the fan. Next, Japanese washi paper, silk or cotton is carefully spread over the ribs and then glued, the rim of the fan is then fastened, and design painted to complete the fan.