Thursday, November 25, 2010

Teru Teru Bozu

The teru teru bozu, or ‘shiny shiny Buddhist priest’ is a small traditional doll from Japan made with a white cloth or paper and a rubber band or string. Teru, meaning shiny refers to sunshine while bozu refers to the baldness of Buddhist monks.

Japanese farmers made these during the Edo period when they became popular, being hung outside a window by a string. When upright it is said to stop rain, when upside down it is said to help bring rain. When good weather is desired and hung upright a chant is said, “Fine weather priest, please let the weather be good tomorrow.”

Interestingly, the teru teru bozu has influenced modern culture though non-Japanese may not have realized it. It is the Pokemon known as Castform to which was based off this little amulet. While the teru teru bozu is a common sight in Japan today it isn’t in other countries, so many outside of Japan are likely to not know what Castform is based off.

It is even claimed that the origin of the teru teru bozu is that a monk promised good weather to a village that was getting too much constant rain. When the monk failed, he had his head cut off after being tracked. The majority of historians think the story developed after the teru teru bozu became widespread.

There is even a nursery rhyme in where the teru teru bozu is promised a golden bell and sake for the success of a sunny day, failure means off with the head. The rhyme goes:
Teru teru bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it’s sunny I’ll give you a golden bell

Teru tero bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We’ll drink lots of sweet rice wine

Teru teru, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
But if it’s cloudy and you are crying
Then I shall snip your head off

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