How To Make a Japanese Fan: Japanese Paper Fans

Learn the Art of Making Japanese Hand Fans

Geisha covering face with fan

The Sensu Japanese fan is one of the most popular of Japanese paper fans and folds for easy use. 

To create this traditional fan you will need the following:


  • 2 - 14" x 17" sheets of thin white paper
  • 11 - 12" long bamboo or precut craft basswood sticks
  • 2" head pin
  • Glue
  • Stencil with paint or ink to decorate the fan paper
  • Tape


  • Ruler
  • Utility Knife
  • Compass
  • Scissors
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Small needle nose pliers
  • Needle or awl

Step 1

Assemble the fan bones. The first step is to mark the center of each stick one inch from the bottom. These sticks will form the bones of the fan and the center mark is the pivot of the fan. Create a small hole with the needle at the center mark. Thread your sticks together using a 2" head pin. Line the bones up as they will be when the fan is folded.

Step 2

Decorate the fan bones. Use sandpaper to finish the edges of the fan bones. If you want to paint or varnish the fan bones, take them apart at this point, and then paint. Allow the paint to dry fully before reassembling the bones.

Step 3

Reassemble the fan bones. Thread the sticks with the 2" head pin and rest the head of the pin against the outer bone. Use the pliers to bend the end of the pin and tie into a snug knot. Keep the pivot tight for a stable fan. Trim any excess wire.

Step 4

Lay out the fan paper template.  Lay the fan bones out on top of one sheet of paper and spread the bones open at the angle you want your fan to be. Use a compass to measure that the bones are evenly spaced. Tape each bone to the back of the draft paper. Mark the upper and lower edges of the curves you want for the fan paper, and try to allow 1" from the outer fan bones and ½" from the top of the fan bones.

Step 5

Cut the fan paper template. Cut the bottom arc of the fan template to shape and trim the draft paper. Line the template up against the fan paper and trace template onto the fan paper.

Step 6

Decorate the fan paper. With the fan paper basic shape, center your design or stencil. Decorate the paper to your preference. Let the paper dry completely before the next step.

Step 7

Attach the paper to the fan bones. Once the paper has dried, line the fan bones up to the paper per your template design. Apply thin lines of glue to the fan bones and attach the paper to the bones.

Step 8

Fold the fan. Once the glue has dried, fold the fan starting from one end. Bring bone 1 and 2 into alignment and crease. Then line up bone 3 and crease. Work slowly and line each bone up as you work to the other end.

Step 9

Trim the fan. Once all the bones are lined up, trim the excess paper on each end and at the top to shape.

Once the fan is trimmed, it is ready for use. Enjoy the breeze of your new handheld Sensu fan.


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: