Teru teru bōzu

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Teru teru bōzu dolls

A teru teru bōzu (Japanese: てるてる坊主?, lit. "shine shine monk") is a little traditional handmade doll made of white paper or cloth that Japanese farmers began hanging outside of their window by a string. In shape and construction they are essentially identical to ghost dolls, such as those made at Halloween. This amulet is supposed to have magical powers to bring good weather and to stop or prevent a rainy day. Teru is a Japanese verb which describes sunshine, and a bōzu is a Buddhist monk (compare the word bonze), or in modern slang, "bald-headed"; bōzu is also used as a term of endearment for addressing little boys.[1]

Teru teru bōzu became popular during the Edo period among urban dwellers, whose children would make them the day before the good weather was desired and chant, "Fine-weather priest, please let the weather be good tomorrow."[2]

Traditionally, if the weather does turn out well, eyes are drawn in (compare daruma), a libation of holy sake is poured over them, and they are washed away in the river.[3][4][full citation needed] Today, children make teru teru bōzu out of tissue paper or cotton and string and hang them from a window when they wish for sunny weather, often before a school picnic day. Hanging it upside down acts like a prayer for rain. They are a very common sight in Japan.

Teru teru bōzu dolls with an umbrella

There is a famous warabe uta associated with teru teru bōzu, written by Kyoson Asahara and composed by Shinpei Nakayama, that was released in 1921. Like many nursery rhymes, this song is rumored to have a darker history than it first appears. It allegedly originated from a story of a monk who promised farmers to stop rain and bring clear weather during a prolonged period of rain which was ruining crops. When the monk failed to bring sunshine, he was executed.[citation needed] Many Japanese folk historians, however, believe this story and others regarding the origins of teru teru bōzu may have originated from long after the tradition had become widespread, most likely in an attempt to refine the image of the doll. It is more likely that the bōzu in the name refers not to an actual Buddhist monk, but to the round, bald monk-like head of the doll, and teru teru jokingly referring to the effect of bright sunlight reflecting off a bald head.[original research?]


  1. ^ O-Lex Japanese–English Dictionary, Obunsha, 2008. pp. 1681—2.
  2. ^ Miyata, Noboru (August 1987). "Weather Watching and Emperorship". Current Anthropology 28 (4): S13–S18. doi:10.1086/203572. ISSN 0011-3204. JSTOR 2743422. 
  3. ^ Daijirin
  4. ^ Kōjien

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