Rain rain go away, come again another day—the history behind the Japanese weather doll, Teru Teru Bozu,

Photo: su neko
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Remember in “Weathering with You”, Hina Amano’s brother Ngai always dresses in a ghost-like costume when she prays for sunshine. The ghost like costume is called Teru Teru Bozu – the sunshine doll.

“Rain rain go away, come again another day,” sings the school children while jumping over the puddle. Everyone has their own way to ask for sunshine and in Japanese culture, Teru Teru Bozu is a doll that attracts sunshine.

Teru Teru bozu literally means “shine shine monk”. Usually children make them when they are stuck inside on a rainy day. “They are believed to help stop the rain and guarantee that tomorrow will be sunny,” according to a Japan Times article.

In the anime, “Weathering with You” it shows that Tokyo has rainy summers. In reality, it is the same. Live Japan’s article mentioned that in 2019, the rainy season officially began on June 7th and typically it lasts until late July.

On the same article, it explains that the reason why Tokyo has a rainy season because “two bodies of warm air – one from the North Pacific and the other from Southeast Asia – collide with two bodies of colder air from China and the Sea of Okhotsk in early spring.

Like the storyline in Weather with You, many people dislike rainy days. Hence, Amano gets a lot of business from being the sunshine girl. However, according to Tenki.jp, teru teru bozu can trace its origins to China. Around the time of Tang and Song dynasty, there is a tale about a monk who promised that he could request sunny weathers. However, after his chant and dance failed to make clear skies happen, he got beheaded by the King of that time. Therefore, the doll only has a head and not a body.

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🌦️Teru teru bozu⁠ ⁠ (en) I love this drawing sooo much! The little dolls are too cute with their bow ties!⁠ The teru teru bozu is a small Japanese talisman doll made from white paper or fabric that is supposed to have magical powers to bring good weather and to stop or prevent a rainy day. Hang it outside of your window by a string and sing the traditional nursery rhyme to ask him to chase the rain and make tomorrow sunny again. And if the doll fails, you can cut her head off…⁠ ⁠ (fr) J’aime trop ce dessin, les petites poupées sont trop mignonnes avec leur noeuds !⁠ Le teru teru bozu est une petite poupée talisman fabriqué à partir de papier ou de tissu blanc. On l’accroche à la fenêtre de la maison avec une corde les jours de pluie et on chante une comptine traditionnelle qui tient lieu de prière. On lui demande de chasser la pluie et de faire qu'il fasse beau le lendemain. Et si la poupée échoue, on la menace de lui couper la tête…⁠ ⁠ Selon ce que j’ai trouvé, il y aurait deux légendes ou explications.⁠ La première viendrait d’un moine bouddhiste au Japon, qui, pendant une très longue période de pluie, aurait promis aux habitants des villages alentours de faire revenir le beau temps. Il aurait malheureusement échoué et, par colère, les habitants ont décidé de le décapiter, de mettre sa tête dans un linge blanc et d'accrocher le tout en hauteur en espérant que le beau temps reviendrait. ⁠ La deuxième viendrait d’une histoire chinoise concernant une jeune fille avec un balai. Encore pendant une longue période de pluie, la jeune fille se serait sacrifié aux Dieux pour aller symboliquement balayer la pluie des nuages avec son balai.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ ⁠#teruterubozu #ghost #luckycharm #japan_focus #japantradition #japaneseculture #japan #art_of_japan_ #team_jp_ #lovejapan #japanillustration #kawaidrawing #kawaiart #japaneseillustration #lifeinjapan #japaneselife #japaneseart #dessinjapon #illustration #artistsoninstagram #digitalart #digitalillustration #drawingoftheday #artofinstagram #artoftheday #cuteart #imaginarydrawing #whimsicalart⁠ #ilovejapan #childrenillustration⁠

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Another story, written by Tokyo creative mentioned that Teru Teru Bozu is a Buddhist priest. The article pointed out that “hey have been customary in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1868) with a simple but memorable tradition: the day before an important event where you need or want good weather, you make a Teru-Teru Bōzu and hang it either in a window or outside. The Teru-Teru Bōzu’s job then is to protect you from bad weather. If he is successful, you pour a little wine or sake on his mouth to thank him. If he is unsuccessful, you rip off his head!” Apparently, there is a children’s song that explicitly mention that if tomorrow is clouy and crying, the doll will be beheaded. Like many nursery rhymes, this one also have a dark history.

There are some more light-hearted versions of the story behind Teru Teru Bozu. According to Sora News 24, the doll represents a yokai spirit from the mountains called Hiyoribo, who brings fine weather and cannot be seen on rainy days.

Another version suggested by the same article says that the story is actually about a broom-carrying sunshine girl. The article says that the girl is known as Souseijou meaning “sweeping fine weather girl.”

“As the story goes, during a time of heavy and continuous rainfall, a voice from the heavens warned the people that their city would be submerged if a certain beautiful young girl did not appear outside. To save people from the deluge, the girl was essentially sacrificed, sent outside with a broom to symbolically head to the heavens where she would sweep rain clouds from the sky. In order to remember the brave girl who brought clear skies, young ladies would recreate her figure in paper cut-outs, a skill in which the broom-carrying girl once excelled. These figures were then hung outside to bring sunshine in times of rain,” according to Sora News. This story strongly resembles Weather with You.

After knowing the sacrifices behind the sunny day doll, will you still want to hang them up by the window?