On TATCHA's first journey through Kyoto, we learned that although a geisha is most famous for her iconic makeup, and the mochi-hada (baby smooth) complexion beneath it, she also has a variety of instruments that complete her ensemble. Understandably, one of her most essential tools is the traditional Japanese folding fan, an extraordinarily personal item with centuries of history demurely fluttering behind it.

We were fortunate enough to find and meet the legendary maker of Kyoto’s fans, a store called Miyawakibaisenan, founded in 1823. From the outside, it looked unassuming, a dark wood storefront like any other on a quiet cobblestone street. A lantern with a pattern of fans hung in front. Inside, however, the store felt museum-like. Its precious artifacts, the fans, were unlike any we had ever seen. Some were wide and sweeping, others small and delicate, a few even finished with long silk tassels gilted with gold.

As we entered, we were greeted by a kind, elderly gentleman in an elegant Western-inspired suit. His name was Mr. Takashima. We learned this legendary fanmaker crafts fans for the Imperial family, the geisha and some of Japan's most revered individuals.  Over the course of our brief but pivotal visit, we came to understand that fans not only make exquisite gifts with great symbolic meaning, they are also quite practical. Previous to my visit to Miyawakibaisenan and Mr. Takashima, I had never owned a fan, nor did I ever think to use one. But that day I left the humble store with no less than ten new-found treasures.

As you know, I created Tatcha as a way to share the treasures that my team and I find on my journeys--both beauty treasures and these old-world artisan treasures. In the spirit of that desire, and to help celebrate the Water Collection amidst this unseasonably hot summer, we would be honored to extend this timeless piece of Kyoto to you. Handmade especially for TATCHA, our limited edition fan is the product of close collaboration between Miyawaki baisenan and TATCHA's own Cultural Director Nami Onodera. The craftsmanship involved in this process is stunning. Each fan made in the Miyawaki workshop requires twenty steps, from the finely sourced timber molded into a sophisticated frame to the ancient tales that whisper across hand-painted washi paper. The pattern on TATCHA's fan is inspired by the eternally swirling, ever-changing nature of water, brought to life in a vivid purple called fuji-iro ("ancient purple"). Each fan is said to pass through the hands of its artisan 87 times before being nestled in its authentic Kiri gift box, made of wood and a symbol of deep respect and appreciation for its recipient.

A modern relic of the highest order, this ornate artifact punctuates the exquisite beauty of the geisha while representing your future spreading wide. It is my sincere hope that you enjoy your own piece of Kyoto’s history and culture with one of TATCHA's and Miyawaki baisenan's one-of-a-kind, limited edition fans.

 

Always,

Vicky

Victoria Tsai
Chief Treasure Hunter

published August 2012

Beauty Secrets, Geisha, Kyoto
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