|"Hokoku Festival Folding Screen||"|
|Men (center) use sign language? ("Hokoku Festival Folding Screen")|
We don't know when Deaf people started using sign language in Japan, only when the first school for the Blind and Deaf-mute was formed in Kyoto in 1878.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 -1598) was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period (1467-1573). He unified the political factions of Japan.
In the summer of 1604 when it was the 6th anniversary of Hideyoshi's death, a special grand festival was held for eight days at the shrine, Hokoku jinja, in Kyoto.
KANO Naizen, the retained painter of the Toyotomi family, painted the "Hokoku Festival Folding Screen", which is designated as the important cultural property.
The rows of houses of Kyoto of those days and people enjoying the festival with richly and freshly expression, etc. are drawn in the folding screen.
Okamoto Inemaru, a former teacher of Deaf children in Kyoto, pointed out that the scene of men who look at fingers each other is in the screen.
He mentioned that it seemed that they communicated in sign language saying "We will go tomorrow" if regarded as the sign language.