Marugame City in Kagawa is known for the production of Uchiwa (a traditional Japanese fan), and has 90% of the market share in Japan.
“Marugame Uchiwa,” a specialty of Marugame, was created in the Edo period as one of the souvenirs for visitors of Konpira Shrine.
Let’s learn about Marugame Uchiwa at Uchiwa-no-Minato Museum
“Uchiwa-no-Minato (Port of Uchiwa) Museum” is located in Marugame City, Kagawa.
This is a museum where you can learn a lot about Uchiwa: such as its history, the process of the production, and so on.
You can see various kinds of famous Uchiwa not only from Marugame but also from every region of Japan.
As we gazed on their many varieties of shapes and patterns, we realized that we didn’t know that there were so many and various kinds of Uchiwa…!
“Marugame Uchiwa Demonstration Corner” is a very popular part of the museum.
You can find this place by following the crowd in the museum.
This is the space where you can learn the production process of Uchiwa, and actually see how they are made by a craftsman in the back of the room.
What great skill this craftsman has…!
You will be surprised at the quick work of the craftsman, who can make the Uchiwa frame from a bamboo tube.
You will realize that Uchiwa were born because of the character of bamboo.
You can try making an Uchiwa!
The good news is that you can experience how to make an Uchiwa here.
The teachers here are traditional craftsmen or “New Masters of Marugame Uchiwa”.
Today, Mr. Hasegawa, who was doing the Uchiwa making demonstration, personally teaches me how to make one.
Well, I am sure that I can make a great one…!
Actually, the production of Uchiwa has a total of 47 steps, but here, you can start the experience with a ready -made frame.
At first, put glue on the frame carefully.
You have to use glue with different strengths depending on the parts.
After gluing, you attach the paper to the frame.
The final process is “tataki (hitting)” after letting the glue dry for a few minutes.
You use a special tool for making Uchiwa, a “hitting sickle,” and a wooden hammer to cut off the superfluous parts, and then your own Uchiwa is complete!
You can make the one and only Uchiwa, a traditional craft you can bring anywhere.
Here is the Uchiwa after I finished the making experience!
You will feel special having a one and only Uchiwa of that you made by yourself.
A beautiful artwork made of Uchiwa frames
“The corridor of Uchiwa frames” by the artist Takashi Nishibori was installed for this museum after the Setouchi Triennale Exhibition of 2010, and the popular installation was originally “The house of Uchiwa Frames” on Ogijima Island.
You will be amazed by the shadows made by each frame, and how they change with the light from the windows.
Let’s enjoy this space, which has a totally different atmosphere from our usual image of Uchiwa.
There are more than 1,000 kinds of Uchiwa at the shop inside of the museum.
And of course you can buy the most famous one, with Konpira Shrine mark over a vermillion colored fan, “Shibu Uchiwa”.
Uchiwa are light and thin, so they are very suitable as souvenirs!
Find special ones for your family or friends while considering each person’s taste!
Address／307-15, Minatomachi, Marugame-shi, Kagawa
Open／9:30～17:00（Last Admission: 16:30）
Closed／Mondays (Closed on Tuesday when the Monday is a national holiday) and December 29th to January 3rd
Uchiwa Making Experience: 800 yen for one Uchiwa (Reception hours: 9:30-11:30, 13:30-15:30 / Reservation required for groups)
Photographs and text by Megumi Yamada
Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.
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