The earliest representations of fans in Japan, whether it be a Japanese wall fan or a Japanese hand fan, can be traced back to the sixth century AD in Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu. China influenced Japanese culture in terms of art and this can be seen from the earliest Japanese fans.
Japanese fan called a sensu, which consisted of two vertical strips of wood, between which was fastened a large number of animal hairs. Many people like to think that the folding fan was first created in Japan, however, there is no conclusive evidence to prove it. A long history of fans in Japan ensued after the Heian period. Eventually, in the middle of the nineteenth century, vast quantities of Japanese fans were exported and sold abroad over 15 million in 1891 alone. The tremendous export trade resulted in the Japanese fan slightly abating in quality and taste. Today, however, Japanese wall fans and Japanese hand fans are quite popular, and millions worldwide enjoy their use.
The top of the handle of the Japanese fan is said to symbolize the beginning of life while the ribs represent the paths of life towards all directions to good fortune.