Kagura suzu

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Two miko perform with Kagura suzu

Kagura suzu (神楽鈴; lit. "divine entertainment bells"), are a set of bells used in Kagura dance. The three tiers of bells are suspended by coiled brass wires; three bells on the top tier, five bell on the middle tier, and seven bells for the bottom tier; making it fifteen bells in total. The shape of the bells are thought to have been inspired from the fruits of the ogatama tree (Michelia compressa).[1]

The term suzu refers to two Japanese instruments associated with Shinto ritual:

  1. A single large crotal bell similar in shape to a sleigh bell and having a slit on one side.
  2. A handheld bell-tree with small crotal bells strung in three levels on a spiraling wire.

The larger form may be hung from a rafter in front of a Shinto shrine and sounded by a robe or ribbons that hang within reach of the worshipper. The smaller suzu is supported atop a handle and is held by female shrine attendants (Miko) costumed in traditional robes, white-powered faces, and wearing Heian-period coiffure during performances of Kagura dances.

Kagura (music for the gods) is a term encompassing Shinto instrumental music, songs, and dances performed at shrines and at court. It was formalized as early as 773, when it appeared in the palace repertoire. These small bells, ritual implements of great antiquity, may also be grouped together in bundles for folk and ceremonial performances.


  1. ^ Guillermina Asian Arts and Antiques , Dedication Kagura Dance Bells, January, 2010.
  1. The Kagura suzu in antiquity, on metmuseum.org.