Fan “Making” Class

Let me start by saying I thought that we were going to be making fans from scratch for my last workshop at Hokkaido Japanese Language School, or JaLS.  Maybe I read the itinerary wrong. In any case, we didn’t make fans. However, we did get to do some neat stuff with our fans.

We also had something special going on this day at the school. A Japanese TV crew was filming at the school and talking to different students. They were from a program called You-wa nani shini nihon he?” (Youは何しに日本へ?). The title translates to “Why did you come to Japan?” It’s a very popular TV show in Japan that sends a TV crew out in search of foreigners visiting Japan with interesting stories. Most of the shows feature the crew stalking the arrivals area of airport terminals for willing visitors to share their stories.


This day, the crew was filming at the school and followed us to the afternoon cultural workshop. We headed back to the Chuo Ward Office where we had done the Sweets Making Workshop previously. A sensei was there to introduce the day’s activity. We all started with Xact-O knives, a cutting pad, and a plastic template that we would have to cut out.

Fan prints sensei
Cutting out the template

Once we had cut our own template for practice, the sensei showed us a table full of prepared and much more intricate templates. Many of templates were actually the emblems of some of ancient noble Japanese families. Some were images of nature and others were more abstract. Each one was quite beautiful in its own right.

table of prepared templates
close up on some of the templates

We all grabbed a few of the templates and our own simple template and tried our hands at dabbing ink with the templates in order to print the images onto paper. It was harder than it looked. The amount of ink on the brush and the force of dabbing made a huge difference on the final product. Some of my printed images came out nice and clean. Others were watery and bleeding when I had too much ink and used too much force.

dabbing practice sheets

Ultimately, we had to pick a template that we liked and dab that image onto a sticker. I picked the one of a sail. Coming from Vancouver, I wanted something that represent the sea or ocean. The sail seemed to be an apt choice. I printed the image onto the sticker and then carefully applied the sticker to a blank white fan that the sensei provided to us.

Completed fan with printed sticker

At the end of the class, we all were chatting about our fans and practicing fancy fan tricks. The workshop wasn’t what I thought it was at the beginning, but that was all right. It was still a fun time had by all and a time to socialize with our classmates. I must say, though, the TV crew definitely made some of us feel quite self-conscious.

No pressure. You might end up on national TV.


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