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Marugame Uchiwa (round fans)


A legend tells us that in 1600, a tourist from Marugame, a city of current Kagawa prefecture, gave a lesson of making round fans to thank for receiving lodging for a night in Kumamoto area, western Kyushu.

According to the legend, the method of making round fans existed in Marugame before then. However, it became popular after round fans industry in Marugame stared selling Marugame Uchiwa with a kanji “金” (gold) on persimmon tanning coating as a souvenir for visitors to Konpira Shrine later in 1600s.

This brilliant idea came up by a head priest, and souvenir uchiwas were actually became to be produced by samurais as their second job.

The first Marugame Uchiwa with “金” (gold) was called “Odake Marue”, which means large bamboo round handle and were tough.

During Tenmei period (1781-1788), under the governance of Kyogoku Marugame domain, many samurais started to produce “Medake Marue”, small bamboo round handle, and in Meiji (1868 – 1912) era, “Medake Hirae”, small bamboo flat handle became the main stream of Marugame uchiwa for the easiness of the production.

Still, the production is said to request 47 steps from cutting and splitting bamboo trees to make the bone to spreading a piece of paper or fabric to cover the bone.

Now the production of Marugame Uchiwa is known as a local industry in kagawa, thanks for the support from The Association of Marugame Uchiwa since middle Meiji era, and 90% of uchiwa produced in Japan is done in Marugame now.

Marugame Uchiwa was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1997.

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