Five not-so-unusual objects to discover

Date of publication :
Katori Buta

Katori Buta

When everyday life is a matter of cute

Overseas, Japan is renowned for its unusual objects. And if we immediately think of maneki-neko or daruma when we talk about cute Japanese objects, you should know that the country has no shortage of objects to discover. There are a lot of Japanese trinkets as adorable as useful in everyday life.

Furin in Japan

Furin in Japan

1 - Furin Wind Chimes

A furin is a small wind chime very popular in Japan during the summer months. Formerly used by Buddhist monks to ward off evil spirits from temples, this chime is now hung on the edge of doors or windows to decorate a room.

It provides protective and relaxing properties because the chiming noise it makes when the wind blows recalls the sounds of the Suzumushi, autumn crickets whose song heralds of cooler days.

2 - The teru-teru bozu

In Japan, the teru-teru bozu is very popular in June. When the rainy season has begun and it is necessary to occupy the children inside.

Shaped like a small ghost, this small figure is said to have a special power to make the rain stop. That is why it is made at this time of the year, to hang it above the windows in the hope that the rain will pass. 

The teru teru bozu can also work in reverse. Keeping the rain away when you hang it up, it is also said to bring rain when hung upside down. Making this little guy occupies kids and decorates the windows, so why not make your own?

Teru teru bozu

Teru teru bozu

3 - The katori-buta

In the middle of summer, katori-buta can be very useful. Literally "mosquito removing pig", this small ceramic pig is placed on terraces or at the foot of gardens to repel mosquitos. It is thanks to the katori senko, an incense stick in the shape of a green spiral that is placed inside the pig, that the katori-buta is so effective.

That said, be careful, the mosquito repellant used here is particularly strong and harmful! So it is strongly advised that you do not burn it indoors, and an indoor katori-buta is more a decorative object.

4 - The inu-hariko

Less known than his friend the maneki-neko, the inu-hariko is a small dog that can be seen in most Shinto shrines.

Made using hariko methods, the art of wrapping papier mache around a wooden mold, it is usually given to children or pregnant women as a good luck charm. The dog being a very good guardian, it is one of the many representations that are used in Japan to protect members of the household. Having an inu-hariko in the house would therefore be a good omen, especially if there are bits of cabbage nearby.

5 - Uchiwa

The uchiwa is a traditional fan. Whether round, oval or even square, it is different from sensu (the foldable fan commonly used in Europe), due to its rigidity. Traditionally made from bamboo, contemporary uchiwa are also made in plastic.

In the past these fans were commonly used at weddings or matsuri to fan, today the uchiwa is very popular to advertise brands. Advertising, goodies, vacation memories, traditional decorations are now replaced by a whole range of patterns that suit the use of them. This is why you will easily find uchiwa in the 100 yen shop, in popular tourist stores, or given to you for free near a department store to promote a new products.

Furin: symbols of summer in Japan

Curious? Explore other unusual objects throughout Japan with the Japan Rail Pass.

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