The Japanese custom “Teru Teru Bozu”, making a doll for good weather the next day

Have you ever seen this doll hanging in someone’s window in Japan? You may see them during the rainy season. This very old custom is called “Teru Teru Bozu”, hanging dolls in hopes for good weather.

Teru Teru Bozu

Hang the doll in your window

Why and how to make a ‘Teru Teru Bozu’

“Teru Teru Bozu” is a custom that has been practiced since ancient times in Japan.  Japanese people use it to wish for good weather for the next day.  First make make a simple doll out of paper, tissue, or white cloth, looking like the picture above. Then hang it in the window where people can see it. Do not immediately draw a face on it! Only if the sun is shining the next morning,  drawing a face on it to show your gratitude. Finally and release it in a river with some sacred sake. If the sun isn’t shining on the next day, just discard it.

Draw the face after you get good weather!

Monks controlling the weather?

The word ‘bozu’ in Teru Teru Bozu is one of the words in Japanese that is used to call Buddhist monks (this word is still in use today). Rainmaking has been one of the works of monks in Japan. The main industry of Japan used to be agriculture and rain was crucial. In 800 a monk called “Ku-kai” was commanded by the emperor in Shinsen-en, Kyoto to create rain. Since then, more than 20 monks held this ritual until 1300. Among all the monks who tried the ritual, Jinkai was known as a specialist, even nicknamed “rainmaking master”. There is even a myth that a red dragon appeared while he was creating rain in Shinsen-en.

A Japanese monk

The origins of Teru Teru Bozu are terrifying!

If a monk failed at controlling rain, his head was severed. In the past, people in a village were suffering from flooding due to continuous rain. They asked a monk to stop the rain, but he couldn’t. His head was then cut off for lying. People wrapped his head in a white cloth and hung it up to wish for good weather the next day!

I surely do not see Teru Teru Bozu the same way now… But I will still make some to wish for good weather! Why don’t you try too?

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Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.