Hagoita (battledore) Racquets (羽子板)

Hagoita (battledore) are long oblong pieces of wood with a handle. Battledore racquets can be divided into those used for playing battledore and shuttlecock (a form of traditional Japanese badminton) and those used for decoration.

At first, Hagoita racquets were used just to play the game of battledore and shuttlecock; however, slowly over time, the racquets came also to be used in exorcism rituals. Around this time the custom emerged where Hagoita racquets were given to women at new year time as talisman to ward off evil. By the time the Edo period arrived, Hagoita racquets festooned with cloth applique-like portraits of traditional Japanese Kabuki theatre actors etc were a fad. Nowadays, Hagoita racquets have been designated as traditional products of Tokyo. Hagoita racquets bearing images of current famous figures and celebrities are also produced.

Since the Edo period through to modern times, a 'Hagoita Racquet Festival' is held at the Senso-ji Temple between 17 – 19 December. The festival is famous for the throngs of visitors who flock to the festival each year. Kasukabe City in Saitama Prefecture and Iwatsuki Ward (formerly Iwatsuki City) in Saitama City are famed production centers of Hagoita racquets festooned with cloth applique-like portraits.

Also, at the Hagoita Racquet Festival, Kyugetsu Co. Ltd. produces and displays unusual Hagoita racquets that are adorned with images based on talked-about individuals of that given year.

[Original Japanese]