Late Edo Period (1615-1867)
Lenght: 40 cm
As in many other cultures in the rest of the world, conch shells (Charonia tritonis) have been used in Japan as trumpets since the Heian Period (794 - 1185). Made famous by the yamabushi, the horagai was originally used in India as a Buddhist instrument and in China on the battlefield to signal troops (in which case were called jinkai in Japan). A metal or wooden mouthpiece is fixed to the shell and blown like a brass instrument and it is possible to make a variety of sounds by using overtones.
The yamabushi (literally "those who hide on mountains") were ascetic warrior monks of the Shugendo sect; thought as invincible warriors with supernatural powers, they used the trumpet to signal their presence to one another across mountains and to accompany the chanting of sutras.