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Teru Teru Bozu: A Japanese Prayer

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A Japanese doll for good weather

The Teru Teru Bozu is a traditional doll made by hand before school trips or hiking tours to pray for sunny days. It’s an old custom practiced widely among children even today. No one is sure exactly how old this superstitious belief is.

Teru Teru Bozu is a small doll that looks a lot like a ghost made out of paper tissue. Children in Japan learn how to make them when they’re in kindergarten, and they are often made both by small children and teenagers before a school trip or a hiking tour.

The name Teru Teru Bozu (てるてるぼうず) comes from the Japanese ”Teru”, which means sunshine and ”Bozu” which translates into Monk, or sometimes bald head. Teru Teru Bozu is typically translated into “Shine, shine monk”.

 

A small Teru Teru Bozu doll hanging in our kitchen window

 

The Origin of the Teru Teru Bozu

The Teru Teru Bozu doll is well-known among the Japanese, and even though most have made the dolls in their childhood, few people seem to know about the origin of the doll.

There are several theories on where the Teru Teru Bozu first came from, but one of the most popular stories is about a monk. He promised he could stop the rain and bring sun to a village that was suffering from too much rain which caused their crops to die.  However, he couldn’t stop the rain, and as punishment his head was cut off.

 

How to make a Teru Teru Bozu doll

The Teru Teru Bozu is made from two squares of white tissue or thin fabric. One is balled up, and then covered by the second square that is tied by string to create a ghost-like doll.

The Teru Teru Bozu is hung up outside or by the window, if the doll delivers on its promise for sunny weather; a face is painted on its head, much like the Japanese Daruma doll. After that, the doll is dipped in sake (Japanese rice wine) and sent away in the river.

 

Teru Teru Bozu: The Japanese Nursery Rhyme

In 1921, a traditional Japanese children’s nursery rhyme was released called “Teru Teru Bozu” (てるてるぼうず) with lyrics that hint at the origin of the doll.

 

 

Japanese

てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず
明日天気にしておくれ
いつかの夢の空のように
晴れたら金の鈴あげよ

てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず
明日天気にしておくれ
私の願いを聞いたなら
甘いお酒をたんと飲ましょ

てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず
明日天気にしておくれ
それでも曇って泣いてたら
そなたの首をちょんと切るぞ

English

Teru Teru Bozu, Teru Bozu
Make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometimes
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 rice wine

Teru Teru bozu, Teru Bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
But if the clouds are crying
Then I shall cut your head off

 

 

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What is your favourite Nursery Rhyme?

 

 

 

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