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Wooden paddle, what is it called?

Posted: February 25th, 2009 5:10 am
by gerald_ford
I noticed that Shinto priests and old court nobles from the Heian Period (and presumably the Imperial Family now), carry a flat wooden paddle. I think it's called shaku, but can someone confirm that? Better yet, do you know the kanji?

What's the significance of that paddle anyways?


Posted: February 26th, 2009 10:11 am
by Jessi
Hmm, good question!

I asked the Japanese staff here and found out that it is indeed called a shaku, written in kanji like this: 笏

Apparently men who were part of the noble family held a shaku in their right hand when they wore formal dress. At first, they would write important things (for example, a program for a ceremony, or 式次第) on a paper and attach it the shaku so that they could look at it and not forget, but later it just become proper ettiquete to carry them around.

Posted: September 26th, 2009 8:43 am
by gerald_ford
Hi Jessi,

Apologies on the very late reply, but thank you so much! I finally figured out what this was on a certain book, but the kanji was still missing. I will be sure to post that on Wikipedia or someplace useful where people can see it. :)