I am not talking about a Japanese person who is a fan of war. I am talking about the classic Japanese Fan that is designed for war. You may be wondering "that simple folding, delicate Japanese fan?" Yes.
During the feudal times of Japan, a lethal version of the Japanese folding fan, a tessen, was carried by the samurai in armor. Rather then made with wood ribs and frame, these folding fans were made with iron and usually had eight to ten ribs and were a handy weapon of attack or defense. Under the direction of many clans, in fact, schools were established where various styles of combat using the tessen were devised, tested and continually improved similar to the study and training of swordsmanship.
Delicate folding fan made of wood
Experts in the use of the tessen were able to parry the blows of spear thrusts using their iron fan according to many Japanese sagas. Also famous for their use of the iron fan were the swordsman who were instructors to the Tokugawa Shoguns. In the literature of the martial arts of that time, there are many instances of victories won with a war fan against a sword, and many examples of men killed by a blow from it. Tessen were also popular with many non-samurai who were forbidden to carry a sword.
Tessen with iron ribs.
The adaptability of these fans is underscored by the famous story involving Araki Murashige, an important figure of the late Warring States period. Summoned to appear before Oda Nobunaga, the first of the three great unifiers of Japan, Murashige knew that his life hung in the balance and that only his tessen stood between him and a most unpleasant demise (all swords being confiscated before entrance to every private mansion). It was known that a method of Nobunaga's retainers for disposing of enemies was to snap their neck between the heavy wooden door panels that separated the antechamber from the reception hall when the visitor performed the ritual bow greeting across the threshold.
When he bowed, however, Murashige instinctively placed his tessen in the groove which the door panels slid, and there was a loud bang as the doors suddenly bounced against the steel rods of the fan, but no blood flowed. It is said that Murashige acted as if nothing had happened, and that his composure was immediately acknowledged by the hasty-tempered Nobunaga with reconciliation and further favors.
Although this legend may or may not be true, it does demonstrate the respect that the war fan had among the feudal samurai of Japan.
Secrets of the Samurai