Hafu (Gable) (破風)

Hafu is the triangular shaped part on the narrow side of kirizuma-zukuri style (an architectural style with a gabled roof) or irimoya style (building with a half-hipped roof). It includes the gable wall and gable boards. Significant developments were seen in the hafu on temples and castles.

Usually the gable walls in ordinary housing are finished with boarding or plaster and a small gable board or decorative metal plate is added however the gable walls in temple construction or castle construction feature decorative materials such as lattice work and plaster, or diagonal braces.
Wide gable boards were often painted with plaster or black lacquer and feature ornamental features called 'gegyo.'
The addition of decorative metal fittings on the gable board creates an even more ornate look.

Shape of Hafu

There are several types of hafu such as irimoya hafu and Chinese gables. These are described below.

Irimoya Hafu
A hafu in an Irimoya (hip-and-gable) roof. Representative of hafu. This type can be seen frequently in samurai style buildings and castle construction (tenshu (main keep or tower of a castle)).

Particularly large ones are called Oirimoya (big irimoya) and the gable boards and gegyo features are also larger. Nijo-jo Castle Palace and Tenshu of Himeji-jo Castle are representative of this type.

Chidori (plover) Hafu
Made by putting kirizuma hafu (gable built on a kirizuma) directly on the roof of fukioroshi (the extension of a roof or the elongation of eaves on the main part of a building in order to cover an adjacent area). Mainly seen in Tenshu construction. In the old days these were often built in the form of window rooms in the upper storey of large roofs in which it was difficult to make a window opening (hafu room) and through the ages these have mostly simply become decorative features with no room behind in the roof.

Hiyoku hafu (Wing gables) and Hiyoku Irimoya Hafu (winged irimoya gables)
It is thought that they originated in oirimoya gables and are mostly seen in Tenshu construction. These are most often seen in large scale Tenshu and the earliest ones were built with hiyoku irimoya hafu instead of oirimoya gables, neatening any distortions in irregular plane surfaces. Down through the ages these came to be added to chidori hafu on palace roofs and pagoda-style palaces solely for decoration.

Kara Hafu (literally, Tang gable)
Kara hafu has a characteristic Japanese shape which is a rising arch shaped roof on a kirizuma gable with the addition of an original form of gable boarding. It is often seen on castle construction and modern temples. It is highly decorative. They are also sometimes seen as entrance halls on large residences and these days are occasionally added to Japanese style houses.

There are two styles of kara hafu gable, including the muko kara hafu and noki kara hafu.

A muko kara hafu gable is built like a chidori hafu or oriel window independently on the top of a roof. Some are built as oriel windows and but most are merely decorative.

A noki kara hafu gable is built by adding an arch rise into part of noki (the eaves) or adding to an arched kirizuma gable. They can also be seen in temple and shrine construction.

Kirizuma Hafu
A gable built on a kirizuma. These are mostly built simply and they are rarely large scale.

Parts of Hafu

Gable Board
It is thought that the Japanese term hafu originally indicated the gable boards. Some gable boards have curves or arches to suit the design of the building and some are straight. Some have grooves or carving. Most are made of wood however some plastic boards are used in housing construction.

Gegyo
Gegyo are the carved wood pieces attached under the gable boards for decorative purposes. The middle of the boards have carved flowers with four or six petals and on each side are carvings called fins.

In China, where gegyo originate, they sometimes use different Chinese characters '垂魚' for gegyo.
In Japan the characters are usually read 'gegyo' or sometimes 'Kengyo.'

Kaerumata (frog-leg struts) and Oigata (a sculptural decoration)
Kaerumata are sculptures which look like frog's-legs, hence the name.
They are used to decorate the gables and have both decorative and structural roles, and types include 'sukashi' and 'ita.'
In China they are called 'rakuho' (駱峰, white horse peaks) and in Korea 'Kohan.'
In olden days they were mostly simple and in modern times, particularly since the middle of the Edo period, carving was done on the inside of the frog's legs and some are made to protrude.

Oigata is a sculptural decoration which is a short shape shaped like a bottle standing in the middle of the kaerumata. The function is virtually the same as kaerumata.

Both are not limited to hafu. In modern times they are often seen on kara hafu.