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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Other namesConcussion Blocks, Kabuki Blocks, Kabuki Clappers[1]
Classification Concussion Idiophone[2]

The hyōshigi (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.


Hyōshigi are used in traditional Japanese theaters, such as Kabuki and Bunraku theater, to announce the beginning of a performance.[2] The kyogen-kata usually plays the hyoshigi at the start of comedic plays.[3] It can be used to attract the attention of the audience by conductors for theater and even athletic and juggling performances.[4] Hyōshigi are also used to stress confusion,[2] and other dramatic moments,[5] 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.[6]

Other uses[edit]

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.[7]

The wooden percussion instrument was also used by night-watchmen when patrolling the streets.[4]

Volunteer Fire Corps (Shōbōdan) patrols use the Hyoshigi during their night-patrols (yomawari) warning people about the danger of fire.[8]


  1. ^ James Holland (16 September 2005). Practical Percussion: A Guide to the Instruments and Their Sources. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-1-4616-7063-6.
  2. ^ a b c Blades, James; Anderson, Robert. "Clappers". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Saltzman-Li, Katherine (2010). Creating Kabuki Plays: Context for Kezairoku, Valuable Notes on Playwriting. Ipswich, MA: Leiden: Brill. p. 47. ISBN 9789004121157.
  4. ^ a b Sir Francis Taylor Piggott; Thomas Lea Southgate (1893). The Music and Musical Instruments of Japan. B.T. Batsford. pp. 210.
  5. ^ Karen Brazell (1998). Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays. Columbia University Press. p. 309. ISBN 978-0-231-10873-7.
  6. ^ Kishibe, Shigeo; Hughes, David; de Ferranti, Hugh; Adriaansz, W.; Thompson, Robin; Rowe, Charles; Berger, Donald P.; Malm, W.; Waterhouse, David; Marett, Allan; Emmert, Richard; Koizumi, Fumio; Tanimoto, Kazuyuki; Kanazawa, Masakata; Fujie, Linda; Falconer, Elizabeth. "Japan". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.
  7. ^ De las Casas, Dianne; Chow, Philip (2006). Kamishibai Story Theater: The Art of Picture Telling. Westport, Conn: Teacher Ideas Press. p. 1. ISBN 9781591584049.
  8. ^ Gordenker, Alice (20 December 2011). "Yomawari". The Japan Times. Retrieved 19 April 2021.