【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ～Marugame Uchiwa (Kagawa Prefecture)～
2022.12.26 About Japan's Traditional Crafts
【Production area of Marugame Uchiwa】
Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture
【What is Marugame Uchiwa?】
Fans produced in the area centered on Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture.
Originally, it was conceived as a souvenir for those who were doing “Konpira-mairi” at the beginning of the Edo period.
It is said that the origin of this fan is the “Shibu Uchiwa”, which has a “gold” mark in the center of the vermillion red fan.
Currently, most fans are made of plastic and are produced by machines.
Marugame uchiwa are made of bamboo and are made by highly skilled craftsmen.
In May 1997, it was designated as a traditional craft.
【Features of Marugame Uchiwa】
The main features of Marugame Uchiwa are as follows.
・There are many fans whose “handle” and “bones” are made from a single piece of bamboo.
・There are both “round” and “flat” patterns
・It boasts a 90% share of the national production volume (annual production volume of over 100 million bottles)
・Different texture and comfort from plastic
Marugame Uchiwa is a local industry that is famous nationwide, as you can see from the amazing nationwide market share.
In addition to making fans that can be used in everyday life, craftsmen continue to take on a variety of challenges, such as creating high-quality fans as handicrafts and fans with high design elements that can be used as interior decorations.
Marugame Uchiwa has been sung as “If you put Tosa paper on Iyo bamboo and go around Awa, Sanuki Uchiwa will be extremely cool”.
This expresses that the materials necessary for fan making were produced in the neighborhood, such as “bamboos = Iyo (Ehime Prefecture)”, “Japanese paper = Tosa (Kochi Prefecture)”, and “Gluei = Awa (Tokushima Prefecture)”. .
When the transportation network was not as developed as it is today, it would have been a greater strength than it is now.
There are many types of Marugame Uchiwa, but the representative ones are listed below.
【History of Marugame Uchiwa】
Marugame Uchiwa is the result of combining the elements of each of the following three Uchiwa.
It was invented in 1633 by the chief priest of Konpira Temple, who was in charge of Konpira Daigongen.
・Medake Marue Uchiwa
Around 1780-1789, the Marugame clan recommended the production as a side job for low-ranking samurai.
It is said that this was the impetus that laid the foundation for a local industry.
・Shioya Hirae Uchiwa
Fans spread mainly in Shioya-cho, following the Nara fan in the Meiji era.
In 1894, Marugame Uchiwa Co., Ltd. was established as the first corporation in Japan to handle paper fans.
Oya Shokai was established in 1904 and started selling flat-patterned fans outside Kagawa Prefecture.
In addition to the domestic market, also expand overseas such as the United States and India in search of further sales channels.
In the Taisho era (1912-1926), mechanization progressed and mass production of fans became possible.
Moreover, the machines that were invented exclusively for fan production were allowed to be used freely by merchants located in Marugame.
In this way, the amount of fan production in Marugame increased dramatically, and Marugame gained an unshakable position as the number one fan production area in Japan.
In the first half of the 1930s, a printing press was invented that could put a name on fans.
As the number of orders from companies and individuals increased as sales promotion items and souvenirs, it became more familiar and familiar.
There was a period when production declined due to the effects of World War II, but reached its peak in 1955-1964.
However, with the development of electric appliances such as fans and air conditioners, the demand for fans gradually decreased.
Despite these twists and turns, it continues to be loved by those who seek the real thing and those who prefer a natural breeze.
【Production process of Marugame Uchiwa】
After cutting the bamboo material into 40 to 45 cm lengths, the pipes are split at a certain width.
This work makes good use of the property of bamboo that splits straight.
After that, the knots on the inside of the bamboo are shaved off to make it feel better in your hand.
A special machine is used to make an incision about 10 cm from the tip of the bamboo, and then the 35 to 45 heads are split in the same way.
This is the process of making holes in the knots for the hook to pass through.
Use a drill for making holes.
In addition, the hook for the hole is made separately by an experienced and skilled craftsman.
A small knife is used to cut and finish the handle.
Instead of shaving everything in the same way, the method of processing varies depending on the type of fan.
This is the work of weaving the ears of bamboo through which they are threaded.
If there are any distortions in the weaving process, the craftsmen give shape to the weaved bamboo while making minor corrections.
Finally, the process is completed by binding the threads so that they are symmetrical.
After applying glue to the base of the fan, the base paper is pasted.
⑧Cut the mold
This is the process of finishing the ears according to the type of fan being produced (egg-shaped, full moon, etc.).
It is also called “tataki” because it is beaten with a wooden mallet while applying a sickle to it.
A thin strip of Japanese paper (herigami) is pasted around the fan so that it will not be dangerous when you actually fan it.
After that, “ears” are attached to both ends of the hook, and squeezed with pressure using a roller.