Traveler Trivia: What are Teru-Teru Bozu?


On Odigo, we dedicate a lot of time sharing our tips and experiences so that we may have a more fulfilling experience in the wonderful country that is Japan.  Still, I got to thinking after recently fielding a few questions from some visitors to the country--oftentimes people have questions about little things in this country that can remain unanswered simply because there is not anyone to answer them or people don't know the right question to ask.  For example: why do Japanese drive on the left side of the road?  Or what is the difference between a temple and a shrine?  
In an effort to enrich your journey's in Japan, I am starting a new series entitled, "Traveler Trivia," where I will answer questions that I have received from past travelers (or try to answer questions left in the comments section below!).
In honor of rainy season, I will start with something that I am often asked this time of the year: What are those tiny paper dolls hanging in windows and porches?
In Japan, those dolls are called Teru-Teru Bōzu, are usually white and shaped like a Buddhist priest, and their sole purpose is to pray for good weather.  They 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!  Fail!
 While you'll mostly see children making and hanging them in Japan (no child wants his/her trip to Disneyland ruined by rain), you may see them hanging at outdoor Beer Gardens, Tea Houses, or shops.  
While there are more intricate designs out there, here is a quick guide to making your own at home--all you need is tissue paper, a rubber band (or string), and a black marker.
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Step 1: Wad up a bunch of tissues into a ball.

Step 2: Wrap a tissue around the ball to form the solid head and wispy body.



Step 3: Secure the head with a rubber band or string

Step 4: Draw a face

Step 5: Hang it somewhere where he can see the weather

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And that's it. Don't forget to reward or punish him depending on how good a job he does with the weather the next day!
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Mike B