You have seen any of these bells in movies, manga, games or anime. O Fūrin (風鈴) is used most often in the 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 a bell in Japanese.
These are made mostly of glass and iron with a pendulum inside. A piece of paper hangs from it by means of a rope. This allows that when the wind blows on the paper it moves, producing a smooth and pleasant sound. The use of it is often not just for decorative purposes. But, it is believed that they helped to protect the house or the person against evils and to scare away evil spirits.
The history of Japanese bells - Furin
Wind chimes originate from China. The Chinese used to make predictions based on the direction of the wind and its sound. These bells were introduced in Japan by Buddhists, and were used to drive out evil spirits in the temples. The Japanese also believed that nothing bad would happen as long as the bell rang. And by making a sound, it was good for scaring small animals close to the houses.
In the 12th to 17th centuries, cities and villages were largely affected by the plague epidemic. And it is a belief of the Japanese that when a strong wind blows, an epidemic spreads. But in this period, only families of nobles and samurai managed to hang the wind chimes. Well, they were made of phosphor bronze and were very expensive. Since those times, Fūrins are also used to prevent epidemics and disease.
Only between the 18th and 19th century, these bells were made with glass. This technique was introduced by the Dutch who entered mainly by the port of Nagasaki. Soon, these glass bells and other products, which were new in Japan, reached the big cities, making them very successful.
Curiosities about Japanese bells
An interesting feature of these bells is that their painting is done inside, to increase the durability of the colors. Today these bells continue to be 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 very common in convenience stores to have these bells of varied and diverse models. The Fūrins nowadays not only do they represent or symbolize some kind of protection, but it has also become a decorative item used all over the world.
There are many variations of these Japanese bells, one of which is the famous Teru Teru Bozu.