Teru Teru Bozu, the Rain Stopping Doll

Teru teru bozu, the magic doll that keeps away rain

Kids in the States know how to send away unwanted rain and attract the sun.

Rain, Rain, go away, come again some other day

Ah, the power of verse.

In Japan it is a bit different, but the idea is similar. When it is nasty weather and children want tomorrow to be sunny, they make a Teru teru bozu[1] (てるてる坊主) doll.

Some Teru Teru Bozu Dolls hanging out

Photo by Daisuke Matsumura

 

The teru-teru bozu doll isn’t hard to make. Take some tissue paper, for the head and tie it, and let the rest hang loose. Looks more like a ghost than a doll. Oh, but it’s no ordinary doll…

Secret Teru Teru Bozu

This doll has magical powers! When placed in the window, he will make the bad weather go away. And… if he doesn’t, you get to rip his head off as punishment. So it’s a win either way.

A nice, wholesome kids game, eh?

The teru-teru bozu song

There is a song that goes along with the doll. It goes like so:

Teru teru bozu, terubozu
Bring good weather tomorrow
Like the sky in a dream
If it is clear, I’ll give you a golden bell

Teru teru bozu, terubozu
Bring good weather tomorrow
If you listen to my request
We’ll also drink lots of sweet sake

Teru teru bozu, terubozu
Bring good weather tomorrow
However, if it is cloudy and you’re crying
I will cut your head off!

Nice song, eh? Trying to tempt the weather gods with golden bells[2] and then threatening decapitation for failure. The samurai spirit is alive and well in Japan[3].

The dark, dark history

Wikipedia tells us that like many Western nursery rhymes, the song is rumored to have a dark history. Legends speak of a monk who promised some farmers to stop the rain, but was executed upon failure to do so. Ouch.

Let that be a lesson to meddling monks everywhere.

Wikipedia also translates the song a little differently than I have, so head over there if you want to compare.

And let’s close with a video of a cute young girl explaining how to make one.


Interested in reading more on Japanese culture? Read on!


  1. teh-roo teh-roo boh-zoo (like Bozo the clown, just ending with an ou as in you instead of an oh)  ↩

  2. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a sweet set of golden bells!  ↩

  3. To all worried about corrupting the children: The last few lyrics are often changed to simply ask for sunny days every day instead of promising swift death.  ↩

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