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Experience the thousand-year history of hand fans at Kyoto Komaruya

February 24th Saturday

Today we visited Komaruya Sumii, which was founded in 1624. This is a long-established store that preserves traditional Japanese culture through hand fans (uchiwa) and folding fans (sensu).

We heard from President Sumii, the 10th proprietress of the company, about the issue of how traditional hand fan culture has been slowly dying over the last few generations.

The key to solving this problem according to Sumii, is to figure out how to differentiate the added value of being 100% made in Japan.

The designs of Komaruya’s fans are sophisticated and beautiful, like works of art. They are popular among overseas customers as a high-class decorative item rather than a practical item.

We sensed President Sumii’s dedicated to protecting the skills and livelihoods of the craftsmen at all costs.

This gallery, located in front of the Heian shrine, showcases some of the elegant hand fan designs of Sumii’s company.

The exquisite craftsmanship of Japanese hand fans has been passed down through generations alongside the famed Japanese katana. Sumii believes that if we don’t act now to preserve this age-old tradition, we risk losing it forever.

We definitely share Sumii’s sentiment that it is important to protect and preserve the artisan culture of Japan in order to avert a crisis of loss of cultural identity.