Teru teru bōzu (照る照る坊主) are traditional Japanese dolls made of tissue paper or cloth hung in front of the window to prevent rain. Teru (照る) means “shine” as in sunshine, while bōzu (坊主) refers to a Buddhist priest or bonze. Therefore, teru teru bōzu means as much as “shine, shine, monk” and alludes to a priest’s magical powers to prevent a rainy day. Ghost-like in appearance, they became popular in the Edo era and were used by children the day before important events or festivities.

How to create a teru teru bōzu

1. Prepare two pieces of tissue paper and some string. Crumble the sheet of tissue paper.
2. Crumple one tissue into a ball and place the crumbled tissue paper in the center of the other tissue.
3. Wrap the second tissue around the ball.
4. Tighten the tissue around the ball and twist it to form the doll's head.
5. Hang your teru teru bozu in front of your window the day before you want the sun to shine.

Teru teru bozu song

The teru teru bōzu song is a warabe uta (童歌), a traditional Japanese nursery song:

Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu
Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure
Itsuka no yume no sora no yo ni
Haretara kin no suzu ageyo.

Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu
Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure
Watashi no negai wo kiita nara
Amai o-sake wo tanto nomasho.

Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu
Ashita tenki ni shite o-kure
Sore de mo kumotte naitetara
Sonata no kubi wo chon to kiru zo.


Japanese original

てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず
明日天気にしてをくれ
いつかの夢の空のよに
晴れたら金の鈴あげよ

てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず
明日天気にしてをくれ
私の願いを聞いたなら
甘いお酒をたんと飲ましょ

てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず
明日天気にしてをくれ
それでも曇って泣いてたら
そなたの首をちょんと切るぞ


Translation

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it’s sunny, I’ll give you a golden bell.

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We’ll drink lots of sweet sake.

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
but if it’s cloudy and I find you crying (i.e. it’s raining)
Then I shall snip your head off.