Is a fan (sensu) good luck? Reasons and points to keep in mind when giving as a gift.

A fan is famous in Japan as an item of good luck. You have probably seen fans used in festivals, celebrations, and other festive occasions. As a lucky charm, fans are also appreciated in gift-giving situations. Why not choose a fan as a gift for a family member or a loved one? This article will tell you why fans are considered lucky. We will also tell you the points to keep in mind when giving them as gifts, so please take a look at this article.

Is a fan (sensu) good luck?

We would like to choose an auspicious item for congratulatory occasions, such as a celebration for a loved one. In Japan, fans (sensu) have long been considered auspicious. For this reason, there is a custom of giving fans on various celebrations and festive occasions. Since they have been popular as lucky charms, they are a good choice for gift-giving. The following are examples of occasions when fans are chosen as gifts.


長寿祝い 61歳の「還暦」、70歳の「古希」、77歳の「喜寿」、80歳の「傘寿」、88歳の「米寿」、90歳の「卒寿」、99歳の「白寿」、100歳の「百寿(紀寿)」などに扇子を贈ります。
退職祝い6.5寸用 お世話になった方の定年退職や、永年勤続をお祝いして扇子を贈ります。
卒業祝い 学校を卒業したお子さんへの記念品として扇子を贈ります。
新築祝い 住まいの新築や引越しによる新生活をお祝いして扇子を贈ります。
開店・開業祝い  新規開店や、起業・独立などをお祝いして、装飾品の扇子を贈ります。
成人式  成人式のお祝いに、記念撮影の着物姿に似合う扇子を贈ります。
七五三 お子さんの成長をお祝いして、記念撮影の着物姿に似合う扇子を贈ります。

Folding fans recommended for celebrations

As you can see, there are many occasions when a fan is suitable as a gift. Although "summer fans" used to keep cool in summer are well known, it is not unusual for other types of fans to be chosen for gift-giving occasions. For example, many "decorative fans" used as decorations for homes and stores have auspicious motifs painted on the surface of the fan, and are often chosen as gifts. If you are not sure what kind of fan to choose for a gift, please feel free to contact us at Ibasen.


Reasons why fans are considered lucky

Not only are fans often worn during festive ceremonies such as Shichi-Go-San, but they are also decorated on kimonos and obis as a lucky design (i.e., a pattern that brings good luck). Why is it regarded as a lucky charm in this way? Here, we will introduce the reasons why fans are considered "lucky" in Japan.

Because of its shape

In Japan, the shape of a folding fan has long been considered auspicious. Suehagari" refers to a shape that gradually widens toward the end. It was thought that the shape would spread toward the future, signifying perpetual development, prosperity, and flourishing. A "congratulatory fan," a type of fan used for celebratory occasions, is sometimes referred to as a "suehiro. This name is derived from the congratulatory shape of the fan.

Because it is a symbol of happiness and wealth

The fan is a tool that originated in the Heian period (794-1185). As they spread throughout the court, fans decorated with gorgeous colors and patterns came to be used as ornaments by aristocratic women. At that time, fans were used only by a few people of noble status and were not yet used by the general public. Some people believe that this is why fans became a symbol of happiness and wealth, and came to be treated as a good-luck charm associated with good fortune.

Because of its sacred nature

Fans have been used in dances dedicated to the gods. By offering the dance to the gods, people prayed for good health and a bountiful harvest. Some people believe that the fans used in the dances were thought to have divine power and became a good-luck talisman. Incidentally, the fan is also a tool used in the tea ceremony for special purposes. For example, at a tea ceremony, a tea fan is placed in front of the knees during greetings to create a boundary (yukai) and convey respect for the other person.

Cases when you should not choose a fan as a gift

As we have mentioned, a fan is basically considered a suitable gift item because it is a lucky charm. On the other hand, there are some festive occasions in which a fan is not considered a suitable gift. There are many theories and varying ideas regarding the following gifts and auspiciousness. Let's check out some of the cases where fans are considered unsuitable.

At weddings

Although there are various theories, some people believe that a fan should not be chosen as a wedding gift. The reason for this is said to be that a fan has the element of "spreading," and thus evokes the idea of the distance between the bride and groom widening. However, this is just one way of thinking. When choosing a fan as a gift, it is best to consider the feelings of the gift recipient.


Folding fans are also used as accessories for Japanese-style attire at weddings. For example, it is common for the bride and groom to wear fans when they are dressed in kimono. Brides wearing white kimono or colored Uchikake, the first formal attire for women, are known to carry Suehiro along with other personal belongings such as Hakoseko and Kaiken. The bridegroom, who wears the men's first formal attire of black habutae with five crests, also holds a "hakusen," a fan with a white fan face.


At weddings, not only the bride and groom, but also guests attending in kimono usually wear fans. For example, women in the bride's and groom's families wear black or colored tomesode, the first formal attire, with a suehiro inserted into the obi sash for greeting and other occasions. The men of the bride's family, like the groom, wear the first formal attire of black hanae five-piece crested kimono and hold a white fan in their hands.


Thus, the fan is considered auspicious and is an item used at weddings for the head of the family and attendants. Although some people believe that it should not be chosen as a wedding gift, it is basically known as a lucky charm.


When giving a fan to your sweetheart in Chinese culture

When celebrating in the Chinese cultural sphere, in Basic Chinese, a fan is the best gift to give to a friend, as it is a homonym for "good deeds (shansu)," meaning "kindness" or "good deeds. They are also sometimes used as gifts at weddings and courtships. In folklore, fans are also used as lucky charms to ward off evil spirits and establish love.

However, it is not very popular to give a fan as a gift between lovers. The reason for this is that the Chinese pronunciation of the word for fan (shanzu) is reminiscent of the word for "dispersal (shan) hua. This is also because fans are used in the summer and thrown away in the winter, which evokes the image of parting.

In China, fans are also given as gifts for good luck and are valued as works of art. Calligraphy fans are considered elegant art gifts that give the enjoyment of beauty. Today, giving a fan is a good choice for anyone interested in traditional Chinese culture.

As you can see, depending on the various customs in different parts of the world, the actual symbolic meanings also vary greatly from country to country and region to region. In gift-giving situations for people from different cultures, select appropriate items, taking into consideration even the cultural background of the recipient.

A lucky fan is a perfect gift for a festive occasion!

As we have mentioned, fans have long been known as lucky charms. They are suitable as gifts for various celebratory occasions, such as longevity celebrations, coming-of-age ceremonies, and the seven-five-three-three festival. If you are looking for a nice and auspicious gift, why not choose a fan? When choosing a gift, you can rest assured that you will take into consideration the feelings of the recipient when deciding on an item. Please refer to the points we have mentioned and choose a gift that is appropriate for the occasion.