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Hangesho Fan Boutique Kyoto

Artisan Fans with a thousand year old heritage

Like a good novel the history of Kyoto slowly reveals itself on a second or third reading. Today I am at Ms Nishino's fabulous fan shop for the third time, and again I learn something new.

Prior to the Meiji period if I wanted to go to a clothes maker, I would need to take off my shoes at the entrance, while the owner would carefully take items out of storage for me to inspect. It was like a private viewing of their collection of keepsakes. Likewise, when I step up to the tatami mat here to view their treasure trove of fans, it is like I am stepping back into the Nineteenth Century.

Folding fans were invented in Japan, originally for their nobility to hide their face in the ninth century, like a kind of masquerade. They were exported to China and later used by the European Royalty, but their design evolved to western taste with the addition of feathers and other materials. It is amazing the stories you hear from Nishino-san as you understand how their design and usage have changed over time.

Getting there

The easiest way to visit this fan boutique is to take a train to Kyoto's Keihan Gojo station. It is only a five-minute walk through the laneways parallel to the Kamogawa (Kamo River). You might even spot a kimono-clad Kyotoite on the way. The store has since been updated since the author visited, making it another reason to visit.

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