The folding fan is widely used in Japan by both men and women.
The Japanese name is Sensu, (扇子 Nihon kenchiku)
There were also fighting fans, used for various purposes, the most significant being the use linked to communication through the sensu, the fan.
The martial art of the fan is tessenjutsu.
Today we find their use also in sumo competitions, used by referees.
Invented in Japan, starting from the idea of ​​uchiwa, but improving it making it more comfortable and manageable. The sensu was born in the Heian era, the same material is kept for the skeleton of the fan, bamboo, paper (washi) is applied directly on the sticks, so that it can be folded.
It has the same use as uchiwa, but is also used in rakugo, a comic monologue from the traditional theater of the Rising Sun, and in nihon buyou, a Japanese dance. The geishas used it for dances that mark the passing of natural events, such as the passing of the seasons or during the tea ceremony. Not only that, even the feudal lords used the large sensu as a sign of their family.
The sensu, on the other hand, is nothing more than the foldable (and therefore more easily transportable) version of the uchiwa. It appeared during the Heian period (794-1185) and is also composed of bamboo sticks and washi paper glued directly to the sticks.
In addition to its more common summer use, it is used both in Rakugo (the traditional Japanese comic monologue) and in Nihon Buyou (traditional Japanese dance), but also in group dances of the summer matsuri. This too can obviously be richly decorated, both on paper and on bamboo.
How can you imagine that an object that looks so simple could have so many purposes? In the feudal age, in Japan the fan was also used in war, built with different materials and sizes, based on the purpose for which it was to serve. For example, high-ranking officers carried with them the dansen uchiwa, large iron fans with a wooden structure, which were used to give orders to the troops, to defend against arrows or as a parasol.
The tanto, on the other hand, was a case in the shape of a closed fan, which hid a steel dagger inside, used for personal defense by both men and women.
A very important folding fan in the history of Japan is the tessen, it takes its name from the martial art tessenjutsu, practiced by the samurai and named after the use of the fan. Also called gunsen, they were made of wood with external rods of iron or steel, in order to resist and parry the blows inflicted by the enemies.
The fan was not only a weapon but also a means of communication, as already described above they could be made of iron or made of ribbons or paper and wood, the commander thus gave orders to his soldiers, raising, lowering or pointing in different directions the item.


Cha No Yu is the Japanese expression that identifies the Tea Ceremony, a very ancient social and spiritual rite still practiced today. A real philosophy of life that the ritual expresses and that tells of intimate meditation, the search for essentiality and purification of the spirit typical of the Zen discipline. Here are the reasons why every single gesture of the Japanese tea ritual takes on precise connotations and important meanings.

Imported from China around the sixth century, where Camellia Sinensis found its origin, over time the tea left the narrow monastic confines, where it was used by monks in religious rites, to be appreciated also by the rest of the population. Initially, the Tea Ceremony was practiced in any environment but, over time, its close connection with the Zen discipline transformed a simple meeting between friends into an intimate moment, to be shared with a few people in a small and specially prepared room.
The tea ritual in Japan is characterized by some practical variations. Depending on the seasons, for example, the location of the kettle changes: in winter and autumn it is placed in a square-shaped hole made from the tatami, the traditional Japanese floor made up of a set of rectangular panels, while in summer and spring in a brazier, also placed in the tatami.

There are also two forms of tea ceremony in Japan: a shorter one and a longer and more complex one, which includes a meal, the service of thick tea (the koicha) and then the light one (the usucha). In both cases, however, matcha, pulverized green tea, which is mixed with water with a bamboo whisk, chasen, is used (in different quantities). This tea preparation method is called suspension and differs from infusion precisely because the tea is directly mixed with water, which is why its exciting effect is significantly intensified.
It is the philosophy of Zen life that inspires the Tea Ceremony in Japan. This takes place in a dedicated room, capable of embodying all the principles of Zen aesthetics: essentiality, absence of content, meditation, spirituality. The void is the undisputed star of the tea room. The material void of furniture is the transposition of the mental void to which one must aspire. What allows you to let go of worldly attachments and daily worries to free the Spirit and welcome and understand the Essence.

Furnished in an essential way, in order to recall the naturalness and spontaneity practiced by Zen, the room, the cha shitsu, is small and simple. It is accessible through a small door, which forces you to bend down as a sign of humility. This is how the guest is immediately immersed in an atmosphere with a particular and unique charm, where the light enters soft and almost suffocated by the screened windows.
Inside the room, on one side there is the tokonoma, a small niche carved into the wall, which is embellished with a composition of ikebana and rolls of paper written by expert calligraphers. The decor of the takonoma is carefully studied. Each element must be in tune with the people who will take part in the ceremony, with the environment and with the time of year in which it takes place.

In Cha No Yu everything is carefully thought out, every element, every arrangement and also every gesture with which to perform the ceremony. This is why the tea ritual in Japan is embellished with such intense and particular charm and mystery.
But how does the ceremony take place?
All the guests sit in the tea room, with the most important person or guest in first place. Then, through the sliding door enters the teishu, the one who prepares the tea, and kneels with the tips of his toes turned outwards.
As we said, there are two tea ceremonies:

a longer tea ceremony, that of thick tea;

a shorter and less complex one, that of light tea, the usucha. 

This continues with the positioning of the various utensils and with the preparation of tea in the cup, the chawan.
Each participant in the rite, starting with the most important one, is invited to consume the dessert with the ritual formula "okashi o dōzo" (help yourself to the dessert, please). Then he is offered the cup and, apologizing to his neighbor, asks permission to serve himself first. Grab the cup with your right hand, slowly place it on your left palm. He admires its beauty and again with his right hand he rotates it to expose the shōmen (the finishing part that acts as a reference). He drinks with short sips and expresses his satisfaction. He cleans the rim of the cup, places it in front of him and the teishu picks it up and washes it.
The ceremony proceeds the same way with all the other guests. When everyone has drunk the tea, the first diner asks permission to examine the utensils used during the ritual: the tea container, natsume, and the bamboo spoon, chashaku. After permission is granted, guests take turns picking up the utensils and looking at them, leaving the cup for last. This turns in your hands while the diners ask for information on the master who created it, the era and the style to which it belongs.
The ceremony ends with the teishu returning to the starting position, bows to the floor with the guests, leaves the room and closes the sliding door behind him.

%d bloggers like this: