Hagoita are rectangular wooden paddles from Japan that date back to the 17th century. They were originally used to play “Hanetsuki” (a game similar to badminton), but they are often used more for ornamental purposes. When playing “Hanetsuki”, since the Hagoita’s movement is similar to the “Harau” action (a Japanese expression meaning “drive away”), it is thought to be effective to drive away evil spirits and is thus often used as a charm against evil.
During the Edo period, “Oshie-Hagoita”, paddles designed with images of elegantly made-up Kabuki actors, grew to become popular. The “Oshie” drawings are usually created with washi or cloth cut out in the shape of flowers and people, and then pasted onto the paddle with cottons inside them to give them a three dimensional aspect.
By the turn of the 17th century, a huge variety of “Hagoita” had spread across Japan. Some high quality paddles even used gold leaf and silver foil, and so many different kinds appeared that Japan’s feudal government had to ban and impose constraints on production at one point. Then, at the start of the Meiji period, new technologies allowed the line-up of “Hagoita” to increase even more.
These are frequently painted, usually with lacquer, with auspicious symbols, or decorated with complex silk collages. The game itself is now rarely played now a days but crafting decorative Hagoita is still commonplace. They are generally sold at traditional fairs (Hagoita ichi) which are held in December.
We have two vintage Hagita at our store if you would like to view them