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Motif Information
Rōmaji Hōyaku
English Treasure Key
Kanji 宝鑰、宝鍵
Kana ほうやく
Season All-season
Seasonal Exceptions none
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Auspicious

The hōyaku (lit. treasure key) is one of the takarazukushi. The kanji 鑰 is relatively uncommon and originally means "lock." It is sometimes replaced with the modern kanji 鍵 (kagi, key), even though 鍵 doesn't have "yaku" as an on-yomi.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

The hōyaku an auspicious design and is therefore non-seasonal. However, it is often featured on kimono that are to be worn in times in which one would want good luck, such as weddings, children's kimono for Omiyamairi and Shichi-go-san, and new years.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

The hōyaku is a key that opens the treasure storehouse of the gods. It also is the key that opens up human life so that it may grow and develop.

Auspicious Nature

As an auspicious motif, the hōyaku is worn for good luck and so that the wearer may expect growth in their own life.

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

The hōyaku is depicted as a piece metal, the handle made of wood or wrapped in cloth, and the key end bent continuously inwards at right angles. It is sometimes adorned by a cord and sometimes held in the mouth of kitsune or shishi.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

Kitsune statues at the entrance to shrines sometimes hold a hōyaku in their mouths.

In Poetry

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

  • Link to any relevant threads on IG


Image Credits

  • Please credit any image used with the exception of images from Immortal Geisha or Moonblossom's photo gallery or anyone else who stated they don't need crediting.

Authors & Contributors

Author/s: Evan Mason (hikari_evyon (IG Username))