Teru Teru Bozu てるてる坊主

It was a rainy and overcast day in Sydney today. Hopefully this is not a sign that summer is slowly coming to an end…

When it rains for long periods of time in Japan, there is a belief that if you make teru teru bozu and hang them by the window, the rain will stop. These strange ghost-like amulets which originated from the Edo period (1603 – 1868) are believed to have special powers in warding off bad weather and are still used by Japanese children today.

The word teru means shiny or sunny while bozu has two meanings: bald headed or Buddhist monk. Shinpei Nakayama published a nursery rhyme in 1921 about the teru teru bozu. Below is a Youtube clip of the song.

The translation of the song is:

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-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We’ll drink lots of sweet sake

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
but if it’s cloudy and I find you crying (i.e. it’s raining)
Then I shall snip your head off

Traditionally, if the next day is sunny, you would give the teru teru bozu eyes, pour holy sake over them and wash them down the river – hence the second verse of the song. Now the third verse is a little more sinister…it has been said that the song actually originated from a story of a monk who promised farmers that he would stop the rain to save the crops. But when he couldn’t fulfil his promise, they decapitated him hence the reason why the dolls just have a head. Folk historians believe, however, that this story originated long after the tradition of putting up teru teru bozu became widespread and that teru teru bozu simply means ‘shiny shiny bald head’. I would like to believe the latter 🙂

Anyway making these little amulets are really simple and would be fun to make with small children, all you need is:

  • two tissues
  • two lengths of string
  • a ribbon
  • sticky tape
  • black and red pen

IMG_1630First, scrunch up one of the tissus into a ball and put it in the middle of the other tissue.

IMG_1633Wrap the ball up with the other tissue so that it leaves a most of the tissue hanging down. When wrapping it, try to make a flat part so that you can draw on the eyes and mouth. Tie the ‘head’ with string.

IMG_1635To make it look a little pretty, tie a nice bow around the neck with the ribbon.

IMG_1637

IMG_1639To make it look even prettier, draw a face onto your little amulet.

IMG_1640Finally, with the remaining piece of string, sticky tape one end to the top of the head and tie the other end to a curtain railing or simply sticky tape it onto the top of a window.

IMG_1644

IMG_1650And voila! You now have your very own teru teru bozu. Try it one day when it rains and let me know if it works!

UPDATE: Since putting up my teru teru bozu, it has actually stopped raining and I can now see a patches of blue sky. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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9 responses to “Teru Teru Bozu てるてる坊主

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