Fuurin in a Shop at Fushimi Inari

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Fuurin is a popular souvenir in Japan, aside from foods, sake, tea, or clothing. Fuurin is wind bell traditional to Japanese culture. In Japanese fuu means wind and rin means bell. This is a recording of small fuurin bells that are hung beside souvenir shops in the Shinto Fushimi Inari area in Kyoto.

Fuurin consists of a few parts. First is the body of the bell that is usually made of metal, ceramic, or glass. Second is zetsu or the ball inside the bell. And lastly is a piece of paper. Between the body, zetsu, and paper is a small rope that attaches the three.

The sound produced by the fuurin happens through a mechanic system. First, the energy of the wind blows the paper until it moves. The movement of the paper also moves the zetsu through the string which then hits the body of the bell that produces the sound. The sound itself is produced by the vibration of the body. The intensity of the sound itself is dependent to how much the paper moves. It can be said that the wind is the musician that plays the bell.

According to tradition, the Japanese people usually hang them in their homes in the summer. The wind that rings the bell offers fresh air. Fuurin has become a Japanese tradition for hundreds of years. For example, in the Edo era, Fuurin that was made of glass is popular. Due to this, glass fuurin makers sell their products to Osaka, Kyoto, and Edo (Tokyo). Due to the transparent nature, the glass Fuurin is commonly painted with different motives. Although many just let be transparent.

Honestly, the tradition of wind bells is not exclusive to Japanese tradition. The Romans know Tintinnabulum, a metal bell with a holy phallus as its main ornament. The Indians and Chinese also know of this tradition. The vibration of such bells is believed to be a good energy in Chinese fengshui.

It is said that the wind bells in Japan is part of Chinese influence, which is senfutaku, a luck reader made of metal that is usually hung in front of a bamboo forest. This tradition came along with Buddhism through the Korean land. However, the belief of this tradition coming from China is still unproven. It’s kind of an old story. The only fact we know is that glass fuurin was popular in the Edo era.

This afternoon, the fuurin that is hung in front of souvenir shops jingles, without stop, along with the noise of visitors of the Fushimi Inari Temple area. It seems as if they were talking with the unseen wind.

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