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Teru Teru Bozu: How to Stop the Rain in Japan

If you have a plan to travel, or go on a date, you don’t want it to be rainy. But what if the weather forecast said that it will rain? You will be very disappointed. But you still have hope!

The Japanese sunshine lucky charm, Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu), will help you to pray for nice weather. It’s a cute doll made out of white tissue paper, which looks like a Halloween ghost. In Japan, people believe that if they hang Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu), it will be sunny the next day. Japanese children make them for their special school events like field trips to have good weather.

Here you can discover Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu), how to make the doll, and the right way to pray to get sunshine. I will also explain the meaning of the word and its history.

Rainy Day

1.What is Teru Teru Bozu?

If you translate Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) literally, teru(てる or 照る) means “shine” or “to be sunny” and bozu (坊主) means “Buddhist monk.” So it means “shine shine monk.” It’s a funny name, isn’t it?

Why is Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) called a Buddhist monk? Since Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) doesn’t have hair on his head it looks like a monk’s shaved head. But there’s more important reason.

Japanese Buddhist monks played roles as rainmakers in olden times. When people suffered from want of rain, emperors(天皇; Ten’nō) or shogun(将軍; Shōgun) ordered Buddhist monks to pray for rain. Buddhist monks also prayed to stop floods. Actually, there are many legends in which high Buddhist priests succeed in controlling rain.

The Origin

2. The Origin

The origin of Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) isn’t clear. But it’s said that the custom might have come from China. In China, there was a custom to pray for good weather by using a cut paper (切り紙; kirigami) doll. The doll is a girl who has a broom called So-Chin-Nyan (掃晴娘) in Chinese. If you wish for good weather, she will sweep the clouds out. This is considered the origin of Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu). In the Edo(江戸; Edo) period of Japan, people made Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) from origami(折り紙i) paper. The shape was more like a human. So it was more like So-Chin-Nyan in China. You can’t find the custom in modern China, but Japanese people still use it in their daily lives.

How to Make Teru Teru Bozu

3. How to Make Teru Teru Bozu

To make Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu), you need tissue paper and a rubber band. You can also use white cloth or a paper towel instead of tissue paper.

Here is a very simple way to make Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu)

  1. Crumple some pieces of tissue paper and make a small ball. The size of the ball should be bigger than a ping-pong ball.
  2. Put the ball on the center of another piece of tissue paper and wrap it.
  3. Tie it with a rubber band just under the ball. If you want to make cute Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu), you can use ribbon or wool to tie it instead of arubber band.

That is it! Isn’t it so easy?

Today, most people draw a smiley face before they hang it. But if you want to do it the right way, don’t draw his face. Draw the face after you get a good result. It’s because if the ink runs, the face would look sad and that causes rain.

Pray for Good Weather

4. How to Pray for Good Weather in Japan

To get a good result, it’s important to know the traditional right way. Hang Teru Teru Bozu (てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) in front of the window. It should be outside. The best timing to hang one is a day before the day you don’t want rain. Be careful not hang it upside down because it means you want it to rain. After you hang it, you can sing the Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) song to pray for good weather. The song is very popular among Japanese children.

The song of Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu)

Japanese:
てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず(Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bozu)
明日天気にしておくれ (Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure)
いつかの夢の空のように(tsuka no yume no sora no yō ni)
晴れたら金の鈴あげよ (Haretara kin no suzu ageyo)

Translation:
Teru teru bozu, teru bozu
Tomorrow, make a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it’s sunny I’ll give you a golden bell

If Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) make your wish come true, draw a smiley face and give him sake(酒; sake) or another type of alcohol. It’s the traditional way to say “thank you” to him. In olden times, people used to float Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) down a river. They thought that he had a soul. But now we can’t do it because of environmental reasons. So you can just throw it in the garbage.

Of course, it sometimes works but sometime doesn’t. However, Teru Teru Bozu(てるてる坊主; Teruterubōzu) is cute and it’s fun to make with friends. Why don’t you make one for your special events?

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