Two new Ainu design fukigami paper folding fans for sale

Fitted with Ainu patterns, a folding fan designed by Goukon Fukiko (left) and a folding fan designed by Toko Midori (right)

The Onbetsu Town Administrative Center in the Eastern Hokkaido city of Kushiro started selling two new folding fans made from “fukigami paper” and featuring Ainu designs. Fukigami paper is a type of Japanese paper made from the peels of butterbur, a special plant grown in the town. Two artists from the Akanko Hot Spring area created the design with assistance from General Incorporated Association Akan Ainu Consulting. The designs were inspired by butterbur growing in Onbetsu.

The major feature of these folding fans is the experience of the special butterbur peel texture and color when the fukigami paper is unfolded. This folding fan project is a blending of Onbetsu butterbur plants and Akan area Ainu culture, and following a January project, it is the second installment in a rollout to advertise the wonderfulness of Kushiro.

The artists commissioned for this project were Goukon Fukiko, a promoter of continuing the oral transmission of Ainu culture at Akanko Ainu Kotan, and mother Toko Midori. Goukon’s pattern symbolizes butterbur growing while facing the sun and Toko’s pattern symbolizes butterbur growing in clear Onbetsu river water. They are also meant to be talisman charms.

The paper quality is different for each design. In the folding fans designed by Goukon, the fiber of the butterbur remain as patterns. And in the folding fans designed by Toko, the greenish coloration is more present.

The first Kushiro PR project was so popular that one hundred products sold out immediately, and extras had to be created. For the folding fans, only 120 will be produced. Each fan will be 6,000 yen, with a box and bag included. They were released on September 1 at the Kushiro Coach & Four location and the Sato Kamiten paper store.


Onbetsu Town Administrative Center