It's just before the beginning of the rainy season, and Sumii Tomijiro Shoten is rushing to make mizu uchiwa. They are called "water fans" in English, because Japanese used to dip them in water and cool off with the vaporized water.
Located in Gifu City along the Nagara River, Sumii Tomijiro Shoten is a long-established manufacturer of these traditional Japanese implements. This year the company is producing 500 of the popular fans, decorated with refreshing seasonal designs of cormorants, fireflies, and morning glory flowers.
Each fans is handmade using thin translucent paper made from the pulp of Japanese gampi shrubs. The paper sheets are then fixed to bamboo fan structures and coated with natural lacquer.
Readying them for market takes 10 days of indoor drying in early summer, when the temperatures are rising but the humidity is still low.
"I hope people will enjoy the fans, and use them to cool off through the hot summer," says 60-year old Kazunari Sumii, the fourth generation owner and craftsmen of the company.
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(Read a related article in Japanese.)
Author: Sankei Shimbun