K-12 Art Lesson - Fans for Japan

Fans for Japan

Title:  Fans for Japan
Grade Level:
K - 12
Mr. James Cipalla

Note: Although it is now several years since the huge earthquake in Japan, this lesson is a great multi-cultural lesson in Japanese art.



  1. The students will recognize the country of Japan and its traditions.

  2. The students will compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.

  3. The student will create a fan in the Akomeogi style.

Time Duration: One 60 minute class


Information about Japan and its culture to share and discuss with the class / 8 ½ x 5 ½ paper (21.5 x 28 cm) (printer paper cut in half will work) / Colored Pencils.. / Watercolor Paint. / other media / Raffia. or colored string/Thread..

(Click on all the images on this page for full size)


Activities and Procedures:

fans for japanIntroduce students to the culture of Japan and discuss with them some of the known/unknown customs. Discuss the recent disaster with the students. Have them imagine that they are there and the disaster has just happened to them. Have the students write a letter to someone at home describing how they felt/feel.

1. Pass out Scratch paper. or have them use their Sketchbooks. to draw three different ideas for their fans. Suggest students consider the culture and customs of Japan. Provide resources for students to use to investigate the nature and landscape of Japan.

2. Pass out 8 ½ x 5 ½ (21.5 x 28 cm) paper and guide students in choosing the strongest of their three ideas to draw on the fan. Inform the students that they are to draw and color only the top half of the paper - the bottom half is for the handle. The students will first lightly draw their design on the fan, then color it in.

3. Demonstrate to the students how to fold their paper, beginning on one side and making approximately ½ inch accordion folds all the way across.

fan 4. Demonstrate how to make the handle by closing the fan then folding one inch from the bottom up. If you want to add a string loop - place it in the fold before the next step.

5. While the handle is folded, and starting from the bottom, wrap string or raffia around the length of the handle. When you reach the top - cut the string/raffia leaving an extra inch or so to stuff behind the wrapped string.

6. When the Fan is complete, have students sign a “made by” card to be attached to the fan and given to a donor.


fan cards Byrd says, "My idea is that the fans can be made out of Watercolor Paper.. Paint small Japanese themed images on both sides of a small watercolor paper (approx. 2" x 6" or 5 x 15 cm). When dry fold as a fan; trim off excess and wrap end with Raffia. or thin gold wire. Add Beads. as desired and White Glue. a pin clasp to the back."


National Standards:

3b Use subjects, themes, symbols that communicate meaning.
5a Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.


Japanese information:

The most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in 100 years struck at 2:46pm JST on March 11, 2011.

Magnitude: 9.0 (upgraded from 8.9).  Fifth strongest earthquake in the world since 1900.
: 130km east of Sendai in Pacific Ocean ~32km deep.  Area known as Japan Trench Subduction Zone
: Expected to reach tens of thousands. Over 400,000 people left homeless
Geophysical Impact
: Parts of Japan near epicenter said to have moved 2.4 to 3 meters closer to the United States.

The folding fan was invented in Japan around the 6th to 8th century. It was a court fan called the Akomeogi after the court women's dress named Akome. The fan symbolizes friendship, respect and good wishes. They are given on special occasions, and they are also an important stage prop in Japanese dance.fans for japan

Traditional Japanese clothing distinguishes Japan from all other countries around the world. The Japanese word kimono means "something one wears" and they are the traditional garments of Japan.


Some of the worlds most popular food originated in Japan. Dishes such as sushi, tempura, and teriyaki are some of the foods that are commonly known.


Unofficial National Flower - Cherry blossoms, called sakura in Japanese
National pastimes - Sumo Wrestling is considered the national sport, however the popular sports are Soccer and Baseball.


Capital - Tokyo, Japan



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