Hokan (Professional entertainer) (幇間)

Hokan (also called Taiko) is a profession of a man who indulges hosts and guests at a drinking party such as a banquet or ozashiki (banquets in which guests are attended by geisha), does performances himself, and helps geisha (Japanese professional female entertainers at drinking party) and maiko (apprentice geisha) to set the groove.


Hokan is also called 'taikomochi' (professional jester, professional entertainer, comedian, buffoon), or 'otoko geisha' (male geisha).
They were also reverentially called 'tayushu.'
The history of hokan goes back a long way, and its origin is reported to be Shinzaemon SORORI who is said to have served Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI as an otogishu (the professional storyteller attending provincial lords). For the origin of the name, there are theories including that it comes from 'Taiko (father of the Imperial adviser [Hideyoshi]) wo mochiageru' (to praise taiko), which changed to 'Taikomochi,' and that they are called so because they beat an musical instrument taiko (drum) and dance.

Currently, this profession is said to be on the verge of extinction because there are few Hokan in Tokyo and only one in Kansai area, and 'party tricks' that have been handed down generations are being lost due to decrease of successors. In Classical Rakugo (classical comic story-telling), Hokan appears in many comic stories, both Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka area) and Edo, from which you can feel the atmosphere. In the Honbo Denpoin Temple of Senso-ji Temple located in Asakusa, Taito Ward, there is Hokanzuka which was built in 1963. One of the leading experts of Hokan is Yugentei Tamasuke. There was a time when it was regarded as a synonym for 'less masculine' as a profession of men.

[Original Japanese]