Spiritual Crafts

Japanese Weather Dolls – Teru Teru Bōzu

Image credit

If you are familiar with Japan and it’s culture in any way, you probably will know of the little paper or cloth dolls which are often hung outside Japanese homes and schools. These dolls are called teru teru bōzu ( てるてる坊主 – lit ‘shine shine monk’) and are believed to have magical powers to bring forth good weather and to prevent rain.

Image Credit

Origins of Teru teru bōzu

Teru teru bōzu are believed to be the product of an ancient superstition in which farming communities would pray for fair weather. Golden bells and sake are offered to the dolls in modern times, but large numbers of buried bronze bells were uncovered from the Yayoi period (300 BC to AD 300) suggesting this tradition could be ancient. The Yayoi period is also when the rice paddy culture was largely introduced to Japan from the main continent, so there could be a connection. It is also worth stating that sake is a common offering for kami, and bells are associated with Shinto ritual, so perhaps the teru teru bōzu were seen as  actual kami at that time.

The most common story and reason for the teru teru bōzu is the following:

There was a monk who promised a village that he could stop the constant rain that was ruining the villages crops and bring good weather. However, the rain continued and the angry villagers beheaded the monk. 

Weather-watching was a common cultural practice (called hiyorumi) during the Heian period (749-1185) until the Edo period (1603 to 1867).When the prayers were answered, the dolls would have their eyes drawn in, similar to daruma dolls. They would then be offered sacred sake and thrown in the river and/or float sake offerings cups in the river to please the kami.

It is suggested by scholars that the teru teru bōzu customs/rituals could be related to a Chinese practice in which a teru teru bōzu-like doll was put on the end of a broom and used to sweep good spirits your way.

It is also interesting that teru teru bōzu are very reminiscent of corn dollies (in Ancient Gaelic and Celtic traditions) and other divination-related dolls in both appearance and purpose.

Teru teru bōzu in Modern Times

Today, children often make teru teru bōzu in school and hang them from a window when they wish for good weather. Hanging the dolls upside down acts as the opposite – a prayer for train. This is often done before a trip or picnic. They are made from cloth or tissue, though plush-type and amigurumi versions can also be bought from the internet and shrines. Due to their easy construction, teru teru bōzu are also a common craft with Japanese culture classes around the World.

Fushimi Inari even sells kitsune versions of the dolls! Image Credit.

There is a very famous Japanese nursery rhyme which is sung when hanging a teru teru bōzu which was released in 1921 and still sung today:

















Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu

Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure

Itsuka no yume no sora no yo ni

Haretara kin no suzu ageyo


Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu

Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure

Watashi no negai wo kiita nara

Amai o-sake wo tanto nomasho


Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu

Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure

Sore de mo kumotte naitetara

Sonata no kubi wo chon to kiru zo


Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu

Do make tomorrow a sunny day

Like the sky in a dream sometime

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 sake


Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu

Do make tomorrow a sunny day

but if it’s cloudy and I find you crying (i.e. it’s raining)

Then I shall snip your head off

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warabe_uta>

Image Credit.

Make Your Own!

Although I would have loved to make my own tutorial here (one day!) I have found some excellent tutorials at the following sites:












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