Kyoto Round Fans
Kyo Uchiwa go back to the period in Japanese history known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties (1333-92). It is said that round fans from Korea were brought back to western Japan by wako, Japanese pirates who were constantly raiding the coast of Ming dynasty China and Korea at the time. These imported fans then found their way up through the Kishu to Nara and then onto Fukakusa where aristocrats from Kyoto had their country villas.
However, it was not until after the beginning of the Edo period (1600-1868) that these fans took on their distinctive form, with a handle that is independent of the internal framework and attached afterwards. It seems that this practice began with the gosho uchiwa, or ""Imperial round fans"" painted by artists of the Tosa and Kano schools for the imperial family. Soon after this round fans came into more general use by ordinary folk and the form of the Kyoto round fan as we know it today was established.
Nurtured by the city's rich culture, history and climate, those making round fans today continue to bring something new to this craft with hand and heart. More than simply a devise to keep people cool, these fans are both pleasing to the eye as fine works of craft art and bring a little splendor to their lives.
Even though Kyo uchiwa is steeped in this city’s culture and history, new techniques and new designs are being added even today. Far from being mere tools for cooling off, these beautifully crafted objects entertain our eyes and enrich and add dignity to our lives.
How to make
Kyo uchiwa is made by arranging on the top end of a high quality split bamboo fine split engraved spokes one by one in a radial shape, stretching on top of them paper decorated with gold leaf, hand carvings, hand drawings/wood engravings, etc., inserting a small groove on both ends of the spokes, trimming the edges of the paper, wrapping thin paper all around, and completed by inserting the handle.