This Specialty Shop in Japan Offers Beautiful Folding Fans
It has been around for hundreds of years!
Hakuchikudo Kanpu Sanjo Teramachi Branch
223, Eiraku-cho, Nakagyo District, Kyoto
Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (closes at 7 p.m. during May to August)
How to get there: It’s a 5-minute walk from Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station
Founded in 1718, Hakuchikudo was established as a store for folding fans for local inns and temples in front of Nishi Honganji, and now has its main branch in Fuya-cho Rokkaku. Its 300th anniversary celebration in 2018 caused a buzz with its collaboration with designers and musicians who sold limited-edition fans. This caused a sensation in social media because of the supporters who lined up even before the store’s opening hours just to buy the limited-edition products.
Kanpu branch located in the corner of Teramachi Sanjo has an atmosphere where you can feel free to stop by.
They have assorted products that meet various needs from casual stuff with laces, traditional Japanese paper fans to bamboo fans inspired by cypress fans.
The Kyo-sensu (folding fans) is said to have roots in the hi-ogi (cypress fan) which were bundles of wooden boards and wooden plates. These were used to write waka (Japanese poetry) and documents when paper used to be too precious back in the Heian period. There used to be a period where washi (Japanese paper) was limited only to aristocrats and monks. But as the technology developed during the Edo period, it was now available to commoners as well.
Hakuchikudo which has fans exclusively made for temples during its establishment, along with the flow of time, have also started to craft items for commoners. Currently, they have a wide variety of fans from Kazari-sensu (decoration fan), Mai-sensu (fan for Japanese traditional dance) to casual original designs.
The charm of folding fans
Kenji Ueno of the sales department vigorously talks about the charms of folding fans. In the Kanpu branch, there are over 100 different kinds of fans to choose from for gentlemen and ladies.
He also said, “I’d like to tell the charm of fans to those who have never used them and to the younger generation.” Especially in the Kanpu branch where they welcome a lot of visitors of all ages. They mostly have casual designs that come in affordable prices ranging from around ¥3,000 onwards.
Ueno mentioned how one big characteristic of a fan is that it can be folded and carried around. Aside from this, another charm of fans is the pleasant feeling when you open and close it, or even just the beauty of the fan in its closed state.
Fans you’d want to have according to season or occasion, from fans which have auspicious animals to refreshing designs perfect for summer.
In Japan, fans have been regarded as an auspicious item as it “spreads out”. It has been used for celebrations and memorabilia. These items which also make good gifts includes fans with auspicious designs such as the disease-free gourds to dragonflies which are considered as victory insects. Ueno happily said that there are customers who purchased fans for themselves who were very satisfied. They promised to come back to buy again as a gift for others.
The challenges faced by the skilled craftsmen
There are also fans with a profound feel such as the “Oyabori Shibusen” (bottom right, ¥8,000 tax excluded) has traditional Japanese patterns carved in the black painted oyabone (outer ribs) of the fan.
Hakuchikudo’s fans which are beautiful and functional, are popular not only domestically in Japan but is also very famous overseas. The manufacturing process still uses traditional division of labor where several craftsmen are involved until completion. Each process involves highly skilled craftsmen from the making of the fan’s ribs, making Japanese paper, and drawing and folding the paper into bellows. It takes five to six people to make one fan but would need as much as 10 people. The fans are authentically made by craftsmen themselves.
Herringbone Denim set (¥7,000 tax excluded, bag included) which uses Okayama denim and Margaret set (¥4,500 tax excluded, bag included) which is perfect for everyday use to match your clothes.
In Hakuchikudo, company president Yamaoka has a challenging spirit of “overthrowing the perception that “fans are old.” To make something new, the company has made folding fans not just out of Japanese paper but from different materials such as cloth, laces, denim, leather, etc. These rare kinds of folding fans have also caught the eyes of younger people and it is said to be popular as some people want to incorporate the use of folding fans as a fashion item. The existence of craftsmen with specialized knowledge and skills is indispensable for the development of such products. When they want to try new things or get feedback from customers, they consult with the craftsmen and sometimes the craftsmen will give them ideas.
There are also original goods such as the coin purse with the same pattern as a fan. It’s also fashionable to have one with the same pattern. “Mini pouch” (¥800 onwards tax excluded), “Cosmetics pouch” (¥2,300 onwards tax excluded).
Hakuchikudo continues to take on new challenges that meet the needs of the new generation while preserving the traditions that have been handed down over their long history of craftsmanship. You will surely find a product that you will like in this specialty shop which has a wide variety of folding fans to choose from. Don’t miss the chance to buy these trending fans that would definitely leave a statement!
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (6 September 2019)