Have you ever seen any of these bells in movies, manga, games or anime. O Fūrin (風鈴) is used more often in summer. They are usually hung under roofs or at the entrance to the house. The name comes from “Fu” which is wind and “rin” which is bell in Japanese.
These are mostly made of glass and iron with a pendulum inside. A piece of paper is hung from it by means of a rope. This allows, when the wind blows on the paper, it moves, producing a smooth and pleasant sound. Its use is often not just for decorative purposes. But, it is believed that they helped to protect the house or person against evils and ward off evil spirits.
The History of Japanese Bells – Furin
Wind chimes originate from China. You Chinese used to make predictions based on the direction of the wind and its sound. These bells were introduced to Japan by Buddhists, and were used to drive out evil spirits in temples. The Japanese also believed that nothing bad would happen as long as the bell sounded. And because it makes a sound, it was good to scare small animals away from the houses.
In the 12th to 17th centuries, cities and villages were affected on a large scale by the plague epidemic. And it is a belief of the Japanese that when a strong wind blows, an epidemic spreads. But in that period, only noble and samurai families were able to hang wind chimes. Well, they were made of phosphor bronze and they were very expensive. Since those times the furins are also used for avoid epidemics and illnesses.
Only between the 18th and 19th century, these bells started to be made with glass. This technique was introduced by the Dutch who entered mainly through the nagasaki port. Soon, these glass bells and other products, which were new in Japan, arrived in big cities, being very successful.
Facts about Japanese bells
An interesting feature of these bells is that they are painted on the inside, to increase the durability of the colors. Today, these bells are still produced by hand. Each region produces in a different way, using materials, colors and styles typical of each area of Japan.
If you want to buy one, it is quite common in convenience stores to have these bells of varied and diverse models. You furins nowadays not only serve to represent or symbolize some type of protection, but also become a decorative item used all over the world.
There are many variations of these Japanese bells, one of them is the famous Teru Teru Bozu.