How to Learn Traditional Japanese Fan Dancing

Written by mona harte
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How to Learn Traditional Japanese Fan Dancing
Fan dancing is a long-honoured tradition in Japan. (fan image by peter Hires Images from

A Japanese fan dance has many versions. It is a graceful dance, often performed by geishas as representative of human emotions. Centuries ago, the fan dance was created to highlight the ornateness of handmade paper fans.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Learn to dance in the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto. Lessons are given in a fan dance instructor's home with an English-speaking translator. These lessons last two hours, and teach the student how to use the folding fans to a minimum of one Japanese song. A maximum of nine people can be in a group.

  2. 2

    Seek out dance schools set in geographic areas where there are large Japanese/American communities. In Tacoma, Washington, the kabuki Academy regularly holds traditional Japanese fan dance lessons at a community college and other locations. Sachiyo Ito & Company in New York City's West Side offers lessons that range from beginning classes for children to more involved fan dancing classes for advanced students.

  3. 3

    Contact U.S. Japanese societies. They are often located in larger cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC. Cultural programs often occur that include Japanese fan dance performances. The society can provide the names of traditional Japanese fan dance teachers.

  4. 4

    Inquire at a Japanese restaurant. Traditions are long-honoured and revered in Japanese culture. Someone might know of a relative or a friend who can provide fan dance lessons.

Tips and warnings

  • The fan's wood and paper weight is important. It should be sturdy enough for the paper to withstand repeated folding without bending. The wood has to able to open to a 180 degree angle, and be thrust upwards repeatedly.

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