How to fan dance

FAN DANCE DAY - April 3, 2023

Fan Dance Day is on April 3. Japanese Fan Dancing is an ancient tradition that dates back to 600 B.C. This practice was initially used to keep the aristocracy cool. Over time, the majestic dance evolved into a tool for storytelling and entertainment. The dances are characterized by brightly colored kimonos and handheld fans, bold makeup, graceful movements, and sweeping gestures. Performances usually have live traditional music and are enjoyed by people from all over the world. Fan dancing isn’t just dance— it tells a story through slow, deliberate poses and movements. Fan Dance Day was created to celebrate this art form and its rich tradition.

History of Fan Dance Day

The earliest record of fan dancing in Japan dates back to the reign of Emperor Jimmu. Fan Dancing was an honor reserved for the nobility and was hardly ever performed outside the royal court. This popular dance morphed over the centuries and became essential to celebrations such as marriage ceremonies and coronations. In ancient times, fans were used as indicators of one’s social status. The use of ‘hinoku’ (Japanese cypress) to decorate fans was regulated according to the social rank of the owner. In some instances, Japanese craftsmen made fans from sandalwood, ivory, and mother-of-pearl for those in high society. These days, Japanese fans represent friendship or loyalty and are exchanged as signs of good fortune.

Traditional Japanese fans are made from paper, feathers, or cloth. These days, most fans are made from paper and are hand-painted and folded. All fans have a paper pivot attachment that makes the fan easily openable with just a wrist flick. The attachment also allows the user to fold and twirl the fan as they dance.

Traditional fan dancing continues in Japan in modern times. It is now accessible to everyone, not just those in power. Hand-painted paper fans, live music, and the playing of a shamisen (a three-stringed instrument) continue to be the key features of the performances. Fan dances are also performed to Western audiences without traditional elements. Instead, the movements are faster with more intense choreography. The dances are done to recorded music rather than live performances.

Fan Dance Day timeline

1192 B.C.

Origins of Traditional Dance

Japanese traditional dance is created by fusing Chinese, Korean, and Japanese music and artistic expression.

17th Century

No Women are Allowed

Women are banned from Kabuki, a form of fan dancing, as the government is concerned about women dancing wildly in public.


Fan Dance Literature

Arthur Golden publishes the novel "Memoirs of a Geisha," which discusses fan dancing at length.


A World Record is Set

John Muir Middle School sets the world record for the largest Japanese fan dance, with 1,392 students and faculty participating.

Fan Dance Day


What is the traditional name for Japanese fan dance?

‘Jinta Mai’ is the Japanese name for fan dancing.

What is the hashtag for Fan Dance Day?

The social media hashtag for this holiday is #FanDanceDay.

Where else can I see fan dances?

To see more fan dancing, you can attend the Bon Odori; a folk festival celebrated in Japan in May.

Fan Dance Day Activities

  1. Attend a fan dance show

    Have some fun by going to see a performance of fan dancing. You'll have a great time in the traditional or modernized form.

  2. Take a fan dance class

    Numerous places offer fan dance classes, even for children. Bring the kids along for some quality time to make it even more enjoyable.

  3. Dive into YouTube

    If you can't make it to a show or class, YouTube has loads of fan dancing videos. These videos also help you learn the dance form and allow you to mark the celebrations right at home.

5 Interesting Facts About Fans

  1. Fans as props

    Fans are an extension of the dancer's body and transform into different objects such as a leaf or convey intangible aspects of the dance such as atmosphere or emotion.

  2. A rite of passage

    Learning fan dance was a requirement for a woman to become a geisha.

  3. Different types of fans

    Pleated fans called ‘Sensu’ used in the dance are sturdier and more decorated than those used for cooling off in hot weather.

  4. An outsider let in

    In 2017, Gankyo Nakamura became the first non-Japanese citizen allowed to participate in Kabuki fan dance in Japan.

  5. Three essential elements

    Fan dancing uses three key elements: time, body, and space; Time refers to the dancers moving slowly in sync with the music; body means the dancers form organic and geometric shapes with the fans, and space refers to the vertical movement on stage.

Why We Love Fan Dance Day

  1. It's fun

    You're sure to have fun whether you're watching or participating in a Japanese fan dance. This vibrant art form is a delight for all.

  2. It's steeped in history

    Fan dancing goes back thousands of years. This day helps us learn about the practice's origins and some Japanese history.

  3. A family-friendly event

    People of all ages can enjoy fan dancing. We can take the entire family for a day out for fun.

Fan Dance Day dates

2023April 3Monday
2024April 3Wednesday
2025April 3Thursday
2026April 3Friday
2027April 3Saturday

How to dance with a fan?

A dance with a fan is a delicate and nuanced expression of joy. It is a form of storytelling that requires conjuring of a specific sentiment.

Here are some exercises that will help you access the correct emotion.

Start by placing your fan on the floor. Try to entice your fan to want to come and dance with you. Gesture to it. Dance for it. Convince it you are planning to have fun. Only when you can feel in your heart that that fan is cooperating, pick it up.

In the beginning, handle the fan with care. It has a shy nature. Somethings in life require encouragement. Run your fingers lovingly across each blade.

Tell your fan:
You are beautiful.
We will dance together to inspire joy in each other.
Don’t be shy.
I will hold your hand, all the way through.

Next, practice hiding the fan underneath your clothes. Women have an advantage in this step since we usually wear undergarments that facilitate lifting burdens. Carry it around for a whole day like a mother kangaroo would carry her child. Let it adjust to the warmth of your body.

Practice revealing the fan from a hidden place in a most glamorous manner.

Introduce the fan to the rest of your body.

Caress your face gently with the fan. This will help the fan to trust you later when you are smashing it around.

Embrace the opened fan as if it you are holding on to all your hopes and desires.

Offer all you thoughts to the world. Leave it to destiny.

Breath life into your fan.
Let it breath life back into you.

Fan yourself with your fully acclimatized dance prop. Walk around imagining that you are much beloved Queen. You are fierce. Decisive. Powerful. But fair.

Walking shall naturally lead to dancing. Don’t resist the urge, just go with it. But don’t push it either. All shall happen in it’s own good time.

Do an exercise where you attach your fan to your hip see what interesting movements that come out.

Move your fan in a circular motion. See if you can keep your hips connected to your fan by an invisible thread.

The essence of dancing with a fan is joy. Make a list of all the things that bring you joy and then dance as if your fan in bringing them into your reality.

Imagine your fan is a sword that slices through all the obstacles that stand in your way.

Or a ladle that is mixing a nourishing soup.

Now your fan is ready to dance. Let it guide the way. Follow it’s lead.
Since you developed a private language with your fan dancing will flow naturally. Pure joy in your heart to the whole world.

Imagine you have achieved all that you desired and you are dancing not to celebrate but to express your gratitude.

Remember that the path of joy is always spread before your feet. All you need to do is take one step in front of the other.

I pass the baton to you. Pick up that fan and start dancing.

Everyone dance! – in a fan video collected fragments of dances from Bayonetta, Devil May Cry V and other games

Famous characters love to dance

Famous characters love to dance.

It's not that dancing is an important part of many video games, but some characters love to dance and they're great at it.

A YouTube user named Z-Star posted a funny video in which he collected dance fragments from various projects, both old and new. The video flashes scenes from Donkey Kong 64, Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion 3, Persona 5 Royal, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, as well as Bayonetta, Devil May Cry V and Final Fantasy VII Remake.

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