Type: Struck > Concussion > Idiophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.141
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The hyōshigi [in Japanese Kanji; 拍子木] is a simple Japanese musical instrument. Consisting of two pieces of hardwood or bamboo often connected by a thin ornamental rope. The clappers are played together or on the floor to create a cracking sound. Sometimes they are struck slowly at first, then faster and faster.
Usage: Hyōshigi are used in traditional Japanese theatres, such as Kabuki and Bunraku theatre, to announce the beginning of a performance. The kyogen-kata usually plays the hyoshigi at the start of comedic plays.
It can be used to attract the attention of the audience by conductors for theatre and even athletic and juggling performances. Hyōshigi are also used to stress confusion and other dramatic moments in the play.
It is also often used to signal the starting or the end of parts of festivals, especially in the directing of the mikoshi. Hyōshigi is combined with other traditional Japanese instruments in mikagura-uta or cycle of songs, which is characteristic of the Tenrikyo religion
The clapping instrument was also used in Kamishibai to gather children so that the Kamishibai man could sell candy and entertain them with his story. The wooden percussion instrument was also used by night-watchmen when patrolling the streets.