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Ishizumi Family Giant Fan Donated to the British Museum


The Ishizumi family stored the above Giant Fan in a storehouse on their Kyoto grounds, (except for when the Giant Fan was displayed at exhibitions). However, it becam difficult to maintain the fan at an optimum temperature, due to humidity, and thus they considered donating the fan to a museum in Japan. Based on its historical background, of having been displayed many times at international expositions, and taking into consideration the fan's significant artistic value, its cultural importance for Japan, as well as the quality of the illustrations on the fan. Kanji Ishizumi sought the advice of Mr.Toshio Egawa, formerly Managing Director of Konica Ltd., a long time advisor and mentor to Kanji Ishizumi.

Through Mr. Egawa, Kanji Ishizumi was introduced to Professor Dame Jessica Rawson. Warden of Merton College, Oxford University. Then in August 1999 Professor Ishizumi was introduced to Professor Timothy Clark, the then Head Keeper of Japanese Antiquities at The British Museum. In November 2000, Mr. Clark personally made a trip to Kyoto to verify the giant fan and was struck in admiration of its artistic value, and as a result it was tentatively determined to present The British Museum with the fan.

On January 29, 2001 the Antiquities Export Permit was issued by the Director of the Kyoto National Museum and on March 7, 2001 the fan was transported from Kansai International Airport by Nippon Express' Art Division and the fan arrived safely at The British Museum.

Thereafter, the fan underwent restoration at the Museum's Hirayama Conservation Studio by Mitsuhiro Abe who has undertaken many restoration of Japanese paintings and who is particularly skilled in the restoration of folding screen illustrations. Upon the fan's restoratuion it was displayed during the main exhibition from March 27 to July 14, 2002 in the Japanese Galleries of The British Museum.

The gift of the Giant Fan was noted in the May, 2001 issue of the museum newsletter, The Column, Issue 7 together with a photograph. In the May-June. 2002 issue of the museum's What's On pamphlet, it was again introduced with photographs and also received media attention in London and visitors from around the world.

Exhibition History, Display and of the Giant Fan

The Giant Fan was exhibited in 1893 at the Chicago International Exposition, in 1900 at the Paris International Exposition, in 1902 at the Indochina Hanoi International Exposition, in 1904 at the St. Louis International Exposition, in the same year at the Portland International Exposition, in 1922 at the Rio de Janeiro International Exposition in South America, and in 1970 at Japan's Osaka International Exposition.

In addition, the fan also received mention and introduction in 1937 in the New Year edition of "Ie no Hikari" ( The Light of the House ), on August 4, 1946 in the Osaka Newspaper, on February 18, 1950 in the evening edition of the Kyoto Newspaper, on March 20, 1950 in the Kyoto Newspaper, on June 20, 1966 on the NHK ( Japan Broadcasting Corporation ) TV program "Watashi no Himitsu" ( My Secret ) in the 20:00-21:00 time slot. on September 27, 1987 in the Sunday edition of Asahi Newspaper, in November, 1987 a large photo panel was displayed at Harajuku Station, Tokyo and the fan also received mention in the November 8, 2000 Mainichi Newspaper.

The Origin of the Giant Fan

Japan became an industrial nation in the mid-Meiji period and as an opportunity to introduce Japan's Power and culture to Europe and America, Japan participated in the World International Exposition.

As the central figure to introduce Kyoto arts and crafts to Europe and America, Kisaburo Ishizumi I, who had been active in Kyoto's commerce and city associations was requested by the Meiji government to spearhead the project.
Through his own investments and a vision to create a Japanese artistic craft that would astound both Europeans and Americans, he amassed the greatest of artistic skills found in Kyoto at that time and created what is now known as the Giant Folding Fan,or just Giant Fan.