The hand-held fan has been used in the Orient since ancient times as a means of creating a breeze. These kinds of personal fans were inspired by the shape of leaves or the shape of a bird's wing. Already in use in Japan in the 7th century, the portable folding fan is a homegrown handcrafted item. The earliest versions, hinoki fans, were made of thin slats of cypress hinoki wood that were stacked and bound. Later, paper fans were made by pasting paper to a skeleton of split bamboo. Folding fans were exported to China in the 13th century. Later, the fashion migrated to Europe. It is said that there were many fan-making artisans in Madrid and Paris as a result of this migration.
There are two types of processes to make fans in Japan. One artisan in Tokyo performs almost all the processes. In Kyoto, different artisans perform each process. Also, Tokyo fans have less skeletons of bamboo (called ken). There are many different fans for different occasions; menís and womenís sizes and designs differ also (usually menís are usually 7.5 sun = 8.8Ē length; womenís are usually 6.5 sun = 7.6Ē length).
Around Omi is the area where 90% of bamboo skeletons are made (Takashima Senkotsu).