How to Make a Japanese Handheld Fan

Updated February 21, 2017

Japanese fans are considered works of art. Making your own fan, especially with children, is a good way to introduce a conversation about Japanese culture. The fans can be functional or hung as a decoration. The Japanese typically decorate their fans with images from nature, so consider putting birds, trees, or animals on your fan to make it more authentic.

Decide whether to use watercolour paper, if you plan to paint your fan, or white bond paper. Also use the watercolour paper if you want your fan to be larger. Fold the paper in half and cut out a semicircle shape starting at the edge of the folded part. When finished, it will resemble a rounded rainbow shape.

Leaving the semicircle folded to make your fan more durable, sketch out your design using a pencil. Some suggestions are Japanese writing, fish, birds, and trees.

If using the watercolour paper for your fan, paint your design using watercolour paints and a small brush. Dip the brush into the water and then the paint to create your colours. Don't use too much water or the paint could run. Allow the paint to dry, which should only take a couple of hours. If you decided to use the bond paper, colour your design with markers.

Fold the paper back and forth, accordion style. Crease the paper with each fold. Gather the bottom of the accordion and staple it together to form the part of the fan that will attach to the handle.

Tape the fan to two craft sticks to make a handle.


If watercolours seem too messy, use markers or crayons to create your Japanese pictures. You can always get creative and add glitter or stickers to your fans.

Things You'll Need

  • White watercolour paper from craft or art store, 12x18 for painting
  • White bond paper, 8 by 14 inches, for markers
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Watercolour paints and brushes
  • Markers
  • Stapler
  • Craft sticks
  • Tape
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About the Author

Christi Aldridge has been writing professionally since 2009. She graduated from Texas Christian University, where she was a featured contributor for several campus publications and won an award for best columnist.