Hello! Do you know “Uchiwa”? I think many people have seen it in the hot and humid summer of Japan.
In fact, recently, I had the opportunity to have a friend show me the traditional “Shibu Uchiwa” manufactured in Kumamoto Prefecture. Uchiwa is an item that has been around for a long time in Japan, and of course I am very familiar with it regardless of the season, but when I saw the Shibu uchiwa, I thought, “I saw such a cool uchiwa for the first time !!”
Speaking of Uchiwa, I thought that it was for creating a breeze and cooling down, but it changed radically. It’s a little out of season, but let’s learn about the history of Uchiwa and “Shibu Uchiwa” and cool down since the heat is still hot!
Description of Uchiwa
What is Uchiwa?
First of all, I will explain about “What is Uchiwa?”. Uchiwa consists of a part called “Ougi” that creates a wind and a part called “E” that holds it.
Uchiwa with a square shape has a short-lived handle instead of creating a strong wind. The round uchiwa distributes the force evenly around the circumference, so you can create a soft breeze with less force and the handle will last longer.
There are traditional ones made of bamboo and Japanese paper, and simple ones made of plastic and ordinary paper.
Purpose of using Uchiwa
In modern Japan, it is often used for the following three purposes.
Creating the wind
The most common purpose is to “create a wind by fanning a uchiwa”. It is often used to lower body temperature when it is hot or to cool rice when making sushi etc.
Another common purpose in modern Japan is “Advertising”. Companies print catchphrases and product photos and distribute them at events.
We have few opportunities in COVID-19 situation now, but various companies prepare uchiwa at summer festivals. A uchiwa that has no handle with a hole in the end of ougi for inserting a finger is also often seen in promotional uchiwa.
Uchiwa is often used for “Supporting idols” by the younger generation.
Have you ever seen a Uchiwa with a photo of Japanese idol’s face printed on it at a convenience store? By swinging big at the concert, they can support the idols and appeal to the idols to turn to them.
History of Uchiwa
Uchiwa, which was introduced from China, was used by a person with a higher rank to hide his face, or to drive away insects around the 10th century. It seems that wood was still used as a raw material at this time.
In the Muromachi period, it began to be manufactured using bamboo and Japanese paper, and it is said that the wind power was dramatically increased. After that, in the Edo period, it became popular among the common people, and it came to be used as a daily tool such as using uchiwa to keep out the heat and starting a cooking fire. There is also a new way to enjoy watching Uchiwa printed with ukiyo-e, haiku, waka poetry, and Chinese poetry.
After that, as mentioned earlier, it is still widely used as a tool aimed at advertising effects and as a tool for supporting idols.
Uchiwa often increases without knowing it… When I searched for a Uchiwa in my house while writing this article, I found four.
Now, I would like to introduce the Shibu Uchiwa that led me to write this article. I came across a good quality uchiwa that is full of Japanese culture.
What is Shibu uchiwa?
Kurikawa Shoten in Kumamoto Prefecture manufactures traditional and high-quality Shibu uchiwa. It is handmade by skilled craftsmen using natural materials such as bamboo and Japanese paper.
By applying persimmon astringency from blue immature gara persimmon (date-plum) to the uchiwa, the Japanese paper becomes stronger and lasts longer, and at the same time it acts as an insect repellent. The peace of mind of the unique color beauty brings important meaning to this era.Their HP; https://kurikawa-uchiwa.shop/
Since it is dyed with persimmon tannin, it seems to have insect repellent and antibacterial effects, and when my friend was looking for a safe uchiwa in such a COVID-19 situation, she came across this shibu uchiwa from Kurikawa Shoten.
New usage of Uchiwa
This “Shibu Uchiwa” looks cool. Shibu uchiwa with various designs can be purchased on Kurikawa Shoten’s website. All of them are made by craftsmen using traditional Japanese natural materials such as bamboo and Japanese paper.
Not only does it fan the wind, but it is also recommended as a gift for viewing to enjoy Japanese culture. There is also a stand for decorating the uchiwa, so it would be very nice to give it as a set.
Shibu uchiwa is characterized by its darkening color over the years. It is one of the pleasures to see the changes over time.
A workshop using traditional uchiwa is coming!!
Would you like to make a unique item in the world by designing your own Uchiwa made from this traditional Japanese technique and natural materials?
We are planning a workshop where you can experience traditional Japanese culture and modern calligraphy with my friend who is an active calligrapher.
We are currently planning details in time for Christmas gifts. We will inform you again so please look forward to it ^ ^