【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Boshu Fan (Chiba Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Boshu Fan (Chiba Prefecture)~


Boshu Fan



【Production area of Boshu Fan】

Tateyama City and Minamiboso City in Chiba Prefecture



【What is Boshu Fan?】

Fans made in Tateyama City and Minamiboso City in Chiba Prefecture.

It is famous as one of the “Three Great Fans of Japan”.

(The other two are Marugame Fan from Kagawa Prefecture and Kyo Fan from Kyoto.)


In the past, many traditional designs such as ukiyo-e and paintings of beautiful women were drawn.

However, in recent years, there have been an increasing number of different types of fans, such as those with pictures of animals, plants, and landscapes, and those with yukata fabric attached.


In March 2003, it was designated as a traditional craft.

*For more information about Marugame Fan, please see this article.



【Features of Boshu Fan】

The two main features are that “the material is female bamboo” and “the handle is round”.



A bamboo with a thin trunk and long internodes is called ‘female bamboo’.

Bamboo grown in the Boshu area and harvested during the cold and dry season from October to January is used as a material.



A piece of bamboo with a diameter of about 1.5 cm is split into 64 equal pieces to create bones, and then the bones are alternately woven with thread to form a fan shape called a “marure.”

It is characterized by a semicircular “window” with a beautiful lattice pattern.



【History of Boshu Fan】

There are two theories about the origin of Boshu Fan.


・Theory ①

It is described in the “Local Materials Shokan” published by Chiba Prefecture in 1911, and it is said that it was started in Nago Town in 1877.


・Theory ②

It is described in “Boso Town and Villages and People” published by Chiba Prefecture in 1918, and it is said that Sogoro Iwaki of Nago Town first started making fan bones in 1884.


Although the timing is different, there seems to be no doubt that it originated in present-day Nago, Tateyama City.

During the Meiji and Taisho eras, fan bones were made in Boshu, and even ‘Edo fans’ were made in Tokyo.


In 1921, Torakichi Yokoyama (head of Matsuneya, a fan wholesaler) built a factory in Funakata, Chiba Prefecture.

Boshu Fan began when the production of Fans was completed in this factory.


Due to the spread of electric fans and air conditioners, the production of Boshu Fan continues to decline.

In the early Showa period, annual production was 7-8 million, but now it is 200,000-300,000.



【Production process of Boshu Fan】

①Bamboo cutting

Medake, which is used as a material, is collected from October to January every year.

Once the craftsman finds the perfect bamboo for the material, such as having a firm texture or a uniform thickness, they cut it down and cuts it to the appropriate length for fan production.



This is the process of removing the bamboo skin.

If there are buds around the node, remove them.



referring source:Mikoshi Storys


Wash with water along with the rice husk.

After polishing the surface, remove the husks and dry.



Make 8 cuts in the bamboo.

Place the cut side down in water overnight to soften the bamboo.


⑤Split bamboo


It is a process of gradually dividing bamboo, and it is done in the following procedure.


・Wrap the thread around the upper part slightly away from the knot and fix it.

・From the cut made in advance to the position of the thread, divide it into 8 parts.

・Remove excess parts

・The bamboo is gradually thinned from 16 → 32 → 64



After collecting 3 to 4 pieces of bamboo that have been divided, roll them firmly on concrete or the like.

By doing this work, the corners of the bones will be smoothed.



referring source:Mikoshi Storys


Drill a hole under the knot.

Care must be taken to prevent the bamboo from splitting.

Use the holes to pass the knitting sticks through.


⑧Weaving bamboo


There are two ways to weave bamboo.

Knitting one strand at a time is more beautiful than knitting two strands at a time.

After tying the thread about 10 cm above the split part, the bone and thread are alternately woven so that they form a straight line.


⑨Pattern stuffing

Cut the handle to just the right length to hold the fan.

After that, since the inside of the handle is hollow, fill it with thinned willow branches.



In the process of making the “bow” of the fan, follow the steps below.


・Cut the madake into thin pieces

・Thinly shave both ends of the split bamboo

・Fix the shape


Once the bow is complete, attach it to the woven bamboo.



Spread out in a fan shape so that the gaps between bamboos are equal.

After that, temporarily tie the yarn knitted in ⑧ to both ends of the bow.




Tighten the thread so as to stop the movement of the bone of the fan.

After bending the bow, tie both ends of the bone and the bow firmly with thread.



referring source:Mikoshi Storys


A piece of bamboo is inserted between the upper bones slightly away from the thread to flatten the bones that have spread to the other side.



In order to make a beautiful fan shape, the craftsman cuts off the extra part of the bone.

This work is done using a special tool such as a cutting machine.

Since the final finishing will be done in the post-process, cut only the part that will get in the way of the work.



In order to keep the shape of the bone straight, heat the center with a stove.

This work stabilizes the framework, and when the bamboo strips are removed, the “fan bone” is complete.




This is the process of attaching paper or cloth to the bone.

After applying glue to the entire bone, stick it on the surface first.

Use a spatula to adjust the overall shape so that the gaps between the bones are even.

Once the front side is complete, do the same for the back side.



Using a tool such as a cutting machine, the ends of the bones are cut and aligned to match the shape of the fan.



referring source:Mikoshi Storys


This is the process of pasting strips of washi paper around the surface of the fan to create a border.


⑲Under coating

The end of the handle is called the handle bottom.

Since there is a gap, apply a liquid mixture of glue and gofun (a white pigment made from seashells).

Once the tip has been rounded off, the process is complete.



referring source:Mikoshi Storys


After drying, paint the ends of the handle with lacquer or pigment.



referring source:Mikoshi Storys


Once each one is passed through a press and adjusted so that the shape of the bone stands out, the Boshu fan is complete.





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