Today I want to talk a little bit about the different types of fans or ‘sensu’ used with kimono. Fans are used to cool ones self by creating air flow, which can be very important while wearing kimono as traditionally there are many layers involved and one can become quite warm. Over the centuries fans have had other uses and symbolism attached to them as well. If I remember correctly Liza Dalby in her book ‘kimono’ makes mention of several uses for fans including the presenting of a special dance fan when dance students achieve a new level. Like so many things involving kimono there are appropriate fans for certain situations.
This is a simple flat fan or ‘uchiwa’ and is typically used only in the summer time for festivals/ matsuri. It is common to see these types of fans tucked into the back of girls hanhaba obi while they are wearing yukata.
This particular fan of mine has a strong spring motif using rabbits and cherry blossoms.
These are regular folding fans and can come in a variety of styles. When people think of fans this is usually what comes to mind. They can have relatively simple designs like these or they can be more elaborate. typically these fans can be used year round with more formal level kimono outfits depending on their seasonal motifs. The two here are more summery with blue roses on the left and green leaves and stems on the right.
Here is a Maiko/apprentice Geisha/Geiko using a dance fan. Dance fans tend to be larger and make use of metallic colors such as silver and gold. They may be elaborate in decoration or more simple like this one.
This was where I got the photo from. I could not find who to credit it to.
So those are just some examples of fans used in Japan in relation to kimono. I hope this helps if someone is looking to buy a fan to use with their outfit!