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Japanese fans

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For centuries and centuries, fans have been used to combat the heavy heat of summer and to cool off, but are also worn as very elegant fashion objects. Although the arrival of modern devices such as fans or air conditioning have made them less essential in everyday life, they remain trendy and timeless accessories that allow us to add a Japanese touch and a little charm to our clothing style. . Indeed, as we will see, although the first fans came from China, it is to Japan that we owe the exceptional development of this craft.

Origin of Japanese fans

Like parasols, fans were once luxury items that only wealthy Japanese nobles and aristocrats were able to afford. After their importation from China during the Han dynasty, they were in fact quickly adopted into the Japanese Zen way of life and at the Japanese Imperial Court in Kyoto or even in Osaka following the strong influence that Chinese culture then had on that Japanese. The first traces of fans in Japan date from the 6th century and are located in Fukuoka where wall paintings representing fans were found on burial mounds. This is also one of the very first historical traces of fans in all of Asia.

Although their first appearance in history is now known, this is unfortunately not the case for the reason for their creation. Indeed, several more or less rational legends would explain why they were made, but in reality no historical evidence testifies to the real reason for their creation. However, this is not what stopped them from finding a place of choice in the fashion accessories of Japanese nobles for both men and women. However, for a very long time they remained confined within this aristocracy and it was not until the 12th century that they really crossed the social strata and became commonplace throughout Japan.

Following this democratization it did not take long for a wide choice of fans, a trade and craftsmanship to develop in order to always offer more beautiful, more sophisticated fans combining different fabrics and different colors. From that moment on, many fans never before created were created in order to satisfy an enormous demand on Japanese territory. But although the Japanese fan industry was already something very important throughout medieval Japan, it took a new level when Japan opened its doors to the world of international foreign trade in 1868 following the Meiji Restoration. Indeed, after Europe and even the rest of the world discovered the quality of textiles and the diversity of fans that Japan was capable of producing, it did not take long for an even stronger demand to appear and pushes Japanese fan artisans to surpass themselves and produce to the point of becoming the benchmark country for Asian fans.

The different types of Japanese fans

Today there are fans in many shapes, colors and designs which are the result of several hundred years of work and craftsmanship. However, this was not always the case during the early days of their manufacture on the archipelago of the Land of the Rising Sun. At the very beginning there were two main types of fans that were used at the Imperial Court:

  • Tuan shan : These are the ancestors of the folding fans that we all know today. Although there are still other subcategories of tuan shan, generally speaking it should be remembered that these are the ones that have been adopted by the rest of the world because they are considered more practical than the bian mian.
  • Bian mian : The bian mian are the ancestors of what we commonly call screen fans. Perhaps you have already heard of them, these are fans which have a rigid surface, often round, coupled with a handle in order to be able to wave the fan.

Although in terms of form the folding fans (tuan shan) have more or less crushed the screen fans (bian mian) in terms of popularity, this has not stopped the fans from diversifying in terms of their material , in their finishes and in their patterns. Even more so with the arrival of modern materials, we have seen the development of a whole new range of fans made of plastic or with synthetic materials as opposed to traditional fans made of wood or with different types of textiles such as silk or lace. Because in fact, beyond their primary function which is to give yourself a little fresh air, fans are personal fashion accessories which allow you to highlight an elegant and refined style. It is therefore for this reason that they have experienced such diversification in their characteristics in order to be able to satisfy all tastes and colors. But given that it is not as frequent as before to see them we suggest that you review the places in which it would be favorable to have one at your side in order to have a little freshness and to reduce the ambient temperature.

Where to wear a fan?

Nowadays, as we have seen previously, fans tend to be less and less present when we have to fight against high temperatures in favor of modern accessories such as sunglasses, hats, caps and even devices such as sunscreen, ventilation or air conditioning. However, it is fair to note that unlike modern devices, the fan allows you to save energy. If we like Japanese culture and style and want to wear a fan for reasons of personal taste, it is not always easy to expose ourselves with it where those around us are not used to it and not necessarily receptive to it. this ancestral style. This is why we suggest that you start by using them in places that fully justify their use because they are often exposed to high heat and the Sun's rays.

Firstly, if you are lucky enough to live not far from the beach or at least go there on vacation you will have no trouble carrying one in your bag given that it is not an accessory that takes up much of space. You can use it to combat the high outside temperature and to ward off the stifling heat in favor of a little fresh air when you read or have a snack.

Secondly, if you don't have the chance to go to the beach in summer it is very likely that you have at least one park or natural place in which it is possible to walk. Here is a second good option for displaying your fan during a walk, alone or accompanied. Especially when we know the intimate relationship the Japanese have with nature, the possession of a fan in a natural environment like this is all the more justified.

Finally, you will always have the possibility of using this fan on a terrace, whether in a café with friends or even on the bar terrace on a family campsite. Because in fact, in summer the heat spares no place and it will be very pleasant for you to benefit from a little fresh air while you sip a cocktail on the terrace of a bar or while you dry off on the edge from the local swimming pool.

What to wear a Japanese fan with?

Now that you have some ideas of where you can wear a Japanese fan. It would be wise to ask yourself with which ready-to-wear outfit to wear it or rather with which garment it would be a relevant fashion accessory. Indeed, although fans have survived the centuries, this is not the case for the clothes displayed in the latest trends with which they were worn at the time. As a result, it may not be easy to successfully match your wardrobe and outfits with your fan. This is why we suggest that you review the different summer clothes that you may be likely to wear in order to see what you could wear it with.

Firstly, not all fans will be worn the same way depending on their material, colors and designs. But generally speaking, given that it is a summer accessory, there are timeless basic clothes like heeled ankle boots or dresses, short or long, for girls that will do the trick very well. For boys, even if it's a more feminine accessory, nothing stops you from wearing one, there's nothing really complicated about it either. A t-shirt or shirt, checked or striped, with a jacket or sweatshirt coupled with denim pants and sneakers for shoes will do the trick almost all the time. Mixing a casual style with comfortable clothes with the traditional style of the Tokyo fan and looks that can commonly be found there.

If the Sun is not there that much and you simply want to wear the fan as a style, you can always wear warmer clothes like a wool sweater or a suit or jacket. Finally, if the fan is not enough and you want to add even more personal touches to your look you can always wear jewelry as a piece of costume or choose one of the summer bags during a shopping trip .

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