Shakubyoshi (wooden clappers) (笏拍子)

Shakubyoshi is a kind of percussion instrument used in music such as gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music). It is used in kuniburi no utamai (ancient Japanese song and dance) or saibara (ancient Japanese music). Also, it is sometimes used in modern kagura (sacred music and dancing performed at shrines). In musical instrument classification, it belongs to the group of wooden percussion idiophones, consisting of two similar components struck together.


Straight-grained and well-dried wood is usually used as material.

The kind of wood is not specified, but taxus is used, as is the case with shaku, or zelkova is used because it is hard and produces good sound.

How to use

The two pieces of shakubyoshi are held in the respective hands and are struck against each other like a clapper to make a sound. However, if the striking pieces of shakubyoshi are completely apart before making a sound just as in the case of a clapper, they may create delay and cannot be struck at the correct point in the music, so they are used with the bottom sides (holding part) together in the manner of a hinge. This percussion instrument is struck not by each flat surface of shakubyoshi, but by the flat surface of the left piece and the edge of the right piece held in an upright position.

The points to strike shakubyoshi vary from music to music, but they are generally divided into two types. In one type, it is struck in determined rhythm, and in the other type, it is struck at determined points in a piece of music.

Since the player of shakubyoshi has a role of keeping rhythm in the whole music, the leading person in all players was usually in charge of shakubyoshi in amateur performances.

[Original Japanese]