The hôka was a type of male entertainer, prevalent chiefly in the Muromachi period, and chiefly associated with juggling, acrobatics, and sleight-of-hand; hôka also often sang and danced, accompanying themselves with wooden clappers or rhythm sticks called kokiriko or sasara. Many hôka dressed as Buddhist monks, and came to be seen as semi- or pseudo-religious figures. Hôka are cited by Zeami in his Sandô (1423) as one of four types of ideal characters for shite roles; Zeami suggests that since the hôka are performers to begin with, a Noh actor portraying a hôka entertainer will have an easier time of conveying an artistic quality through that character.
The Noh play Hôkasô features two brothers who disguise themselves as hôka entertainers in order to get revenge on their father's killer.
- Thomas Hare, Zeami Performance Notes, Columbia University Press (2008), 152n3.
- Shelley Fenno Quinn, Developing Zeami, University of Hawaii Press (2005), 123-124.