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Teru teru bozu meaning in Japanese

teru teru bozu

Have you ever heard of the term teru teru bozu? Children don’t make them anymore, so you may not have the chance to see the real thing. Teru teru teru bozu” refers to small dolls made by children to wish for good weather.

Most Japanese people remember making teru teru bozu several times in their childhood.

In this day and age, when you never know when the weather forecast calls for rain, one wonders how effective teru teru bozu will be.

However, as the lyrics of the song say, it might be a good idea to make a teru teru bouzu with the wish that “tomorrow will be sunny.

On this page, we will look at the origin of teru teru bozu.

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What is the origin of teru teru bozu? 

Chinese 掃晴娘

In China, there is a “掃晴娘(サオチンニャン) (Saoqing Nian),” which is thought to be the origin of the Japanese teru teru bozu.

Sweeping nuns are dolls made of cut paper, with brooms in their hands.

When it rains continuously, people hang 掃晴娘 at their gates or hang her from the eaves of their houses to sweep the sky and eventually the sky will clear.

掃晴娘 appears in documents from the early Yuan dynasty (around 1300) in China, and was a common custom until the early 20th century.

However, it seems to have fallen into disuse today, and when I asked young Chinese people about it, they told me they had never heard of it.

Older people sometimes imitate sweeping the sky when it rains continuously, which is called “sweeping the sky.

There is also a legend of a “sunny woman” (晴娘(チンニャン) qingniang) in Beijing. It goes as follows.

“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, clever, and dexterous girl named 晴娘, who was good at paper cutting.

One year in June, heavy rains continued and Beijing was flooded.

The daughter prayed to heaven for the heavy rain to stop.

Then she heard a voice saying, “Become the consort of the crown prince of the Dragon King of the East Sea, or Beijing will be submerged.

When Spring Girl obeyed the order, a great wind blew and she disappeared, the rain stopped, and the sky cleared.

When the rain continued, people began to perform the “掛掃晴娘(グオサオチンニャン)Guo Lao Zhenni” ceremony of hanging human-shaped paper cutouts on the gate in memory of Spring Musume.”

teru teru bozu

Teru teru bouzu in Japan

In Japan, paper folded into human shapes was hung in the mid-Edo period to pray for clear skies.

In Kiyu Shoran『嬉遊笑覧(きゆうしょうらん), a collection of essays published in 1830, it is written, “If the weather becomes fine, I write my pupils on the paper, offer miki (sacred wine) to the gods, and pour it into the river.”

During the Edo period, it was called by various names, as follows

  • Teruteru てるてる
  • Teruteru-hoshi てるてる法師
  • Teru teru bouzu てるてる坊主
  • Tere tere bozu   てれてれ法師
  • Teri hoshi てり法師
  • Teri teri bozu てりてり坊主
  • Teri hina てり雛

Lyrics to “Teruteru bozu” nursery rhyme of the song

Teru teru bozu song” lyrics by Asahara Kagamimura (Rokurokubou) , music by Nakayama Shinpei

『てるてる坊主』 作詞:浅原鏡村(六朗) 作曲:中山晋平

When I hear the song “Teruteru bozu”, I feel nostalgic. It is a good song.

When it was first published, the song had up to number 4, with the first lyric being “If it’s cloudy and weepy, let’s all gaze at the sky and cry.”

Later, the first verse of the song was deleted, but the reason for the deletion is unclear.

The lyrics of the first release are reproduced below.

1番

てるてる坊主 てる坊主 あした天気にしておくれ

もしも曇って泣いてたら 空をながめてみんな泣こう

2番

てるてる坊主 てる坊主 あした天気にしておくれ

いつかの夢の空のよに 晴れたら金の鈴あげよ

3番

てるてる坊主 てる坊主 あした天気にしておくれ

わたしの願いを聞いたなら あまいお酒をたんと飲ましょ

4番

てるてる坊主 てる坊主 あした天気にしておくれ

それでも曇って泣いてたら そなたの首をチョンと切るぞ

teru teru bozu

Conclusion

Teru teru bozu is a doll made of white cloth and hung from the eaves to pray for clear skies. Nowadays, faces (eyes, nose, and mouth) are often drawn before hanging. Originally, however, people did not draw faces on the dolls, but hung them while chanting the incantation, “Teru teru bozu, tomorrow will be fine. When it stops raining and clears up, the face is painted with gratitude, sake is offered (or poured over the head), and the face is thrown into the river.

  • The origin of the Japanese teru teru bozu is thought to be the Chinese “掃晴娘(サオチンニャン)sao ching nian”, a doll made of cut paper.
  • In Japan, there was a custom in the mid-Edo period to hang paper dolls folded into human shapes to pray for clear skies.

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