Japanese Traditions – Furin and Yukata

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– Augusut 01, 2020 –

A furin is a small Japanese wind chime, which is traditionally hung from houses during the summer. It has the shape of a bell with the clapper in the center of the chime. A strip of paper, called the tanzaku, hangs from the clapper. When the wind blows, the tanzaku causes the clapper to strike the sides of the chime, thus making the furin toll. In the stifling summer heat, a jingle from these bells means cool breezes.

The furin has been well-loved and widely used throughout Japan for centuries. It’s said that people in the Edo period who had a special love for the furin paid careful attention to these bells. They made a point of taking in the furin before going to bed, and also on windy, rainy days so as not to be a nuisance to others.

With the sounds of furins filling the air during summertime, one might also see more people wearing ‘yukata’ for summer festivals. Yukata is traditional Japanese clothing for summer. Unlike regular kimono, yukata have one layer of cloth and are worn directly over underwear (garments are worn under kimonos). Yukata is easy to wear and more suitable for a hot summer day! These days, young Japanese people wear yukata to watch summer fireworks or while attending summer festivals, particularly Obon Festival, a festival honoring the spirits of the ancestors. It’s also popular for foreign tourists to wear yukata while sightseeing, especially in historical areas like Kyoto.