Coming from Vancouver, I’m familiar with excessive, incessant rain. I was not, however, familiar with the Japanese weather doll known as teru teru bozu. This small talisman-type doll is meant to bring good weather.
Its creepy back-story and also the fact that it looks like a ghost make this cute little thing even more fascinating and dark.
Japanese Teru Teru Bozu Dolls Are Said To Bring Better Weather
Teru teru bozo are small handmade dolls. They are usually made using white cloth or paper. Japanese farmers are known to hang them outside their windows with a piece of string in hopes of good weather.
If you visit Japan during the rainy season, you will undoubtedly find these little dolls in many windows. After all, we all know what it’s like to deal with rain for extended periods of time. Oh wait, you actually may not know what that’s like. Just visit Vancouver for awhile and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Perhaps Vancouver needs to pick up on the trend of the teru teru bozu. Then maybe we wouldn’t be trapped inside half the year looking out the window at the rain!
Teru Teru Bozu Song
Teru teru bozu are popular with Japanese children. In fact, kids in Japan are introduced to these little dolls when they’re in daycare of kindergarten!
When they’re very young, Japanese children learn a nursery rhyme that’s melodic if not a bit creepy. The nursery rhyme became popular in 1921. It calls teru teru bozu to bring back the sunny days. Then, it promises that if the wish is fulfilled, they can drink sake. If the wish is not granted… its neck will be chopped off.
Why Did The Tradition Begin?
There are quite a few theories around why the tradition of the teru teru bozu dolls started.
The words “teru” means “to shine”, and “bozu” refers to a Buddhist priest, or just someone who’s bald. So the term translates to “shine, shine monk”. It’s basically a call to a priest’s magical powers to hold back the rain.
One story traces back to the awful death of what was known as “Good Weather Monk”. Back in feudal Japan, a monk had promised a Japanese village that he would stop their continuous rain. In an effort to rescue the farmland, he swore he’d be able to bring more sun.
The rain, however, continued. The angry feudal lord ordered the monk’s decapitation. Afterwards, he ordered the monk’s decapitation and then wrapped his head in a white cloth. The head was then hung up to wish for good weather.
Another story says that the tradition spread from China during the Heian period. In this version, the bozu was not a monk, but a young girl with a broom. When there was a lot of rainfall, a girl was sacrificed to save the city. She was to symbolically head to the heavens where she would sweep rain clouds from the sky.
Ever since, the people remembered her by making paper cut-out dolls. They’d hang them outside their houses, hoping for good weather.
How To Make Your Own Teru Teru Bozu Dolls
You can make one of these for your place! Not only will you show how worldly and potentially superstitious you are, but your craft skills can shine!
Get two pieces of tissue paper and a rubber band. Crumple one into a ball, and then wrap the other around it. Secure the rubber band at the neck, and there you go!
Now the last part! Put the doll outside to prevent the rain. If it works, then you get to draw a cute smiley face on your teru teru bozu.
Here’s to many days of sunny weather!