The hyoshigi 拍子木 or wooden clappers is one of the Narimono or instruments for the Service. They consist of a pair of rectangular blocks of wood, which are struck to carry a beat. In olden times, they were sometimes referred to as "hoshigi" ほうしぎ or referred to as "hyoshi 拍子" or "ki/gi 木 for short."
Hyoshigi are often made out of hardwoods such as evergreen oak (kashi), rosewood, or ebony.
Use outside Tenrikyo
In the theater traditions of Kabuki and Bunraku, hyoshigi are mainly used as a signal that a performance is about start or for sound affects during the performance. They can be struck to accompany a piece of music at each beat or every other beat. Sometimes hyoshigi are hit in succession—slowly at first before being hit faster and faster.
The most familiar setting in which hyoshigi can be heard may be at a sumo bout. A pair of hyoshigi are struck by a person known as the yobidashi as a signal to wrestlers preparing to enter the ring.
In some forms of Buddhist practice, hyoshigi are used in a similar manner as a mokugyo to accompany the recitation of sutras or mantras.
Use within Tenrikyo
Prior to the composition of the Mikagura-uta, the Service merely consisted of chanting “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” to the beat of hyoshigi. Such was the form of the Service that is said to have been conducted by Kokan Nakayama when she was sent to spread the divine name of God in Naniwa (now Osaka) in 1853 as well as the Service conducted by Chusaku Tsuji when praying for the illness of his sister Kura in 1863.
At morning and evening services, the hyoshigi serves as the shin 芯 or leading position and is struck on each beat. At monthly services, hyoshigi are played on every other beat, on the downbeat (omote-byoshi). There are several places throughout the Mikagura-uta where two successive downbeats occur, a phenomenon referred to as a “double beat” or kasane-uchi.
- Unless noted, most of the information on this page comes from 『改訂 天理教事典』Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 778–9.
- Le Monde du Sumo: Several questions to a yobidashi.
- “Practice Manual for the Wooden Clappers” in Mikagura-uta Hyoshigi.