Furin (foo-reen) are those pleasant wind chimes that you often see made of a globe of glass with the bottom cut out. Often, you’ll have another piece of glass dangling below to bump against the orb, producing sound. They are a symbol of summer here in Japan, and I thought I’d take a little time to talk about their cultural impact.
Furin Wind Chime History
When wind chimes first came to Japan via China, they were thought to expel evil spirits. This is why, nowadays, you can see many furin with paper charms attached to the clapper (they also act nicely as wind catchers. Go figure!). Japanese people have a rich history of feeling the divine in the wind, so these chimes fit perfectly into their traditions.
It should also be noted that they were usually made of phosphorous bronze before glassworking was introduced to the islands, making them very expensive and more of a luxury for the elite and rich. From this stemmed the belief that if you were within earshot of a wind chime that you were protected from harm. This may be because the wealthy could afford more protection, nutrition, and medical care, leaving them better off than most of the populace, but it’s much more romantic to say it was the power of the wind chimes, no?
Some people even believe that hearing the wind chimes can cause a physical response in the body, resulting in a lowering of the body temperature to cool off! While I do find the sounds quite relaxing and enjoyable, I have yet to observe this phenomenon in myself. I do enjoy the melodic jingle they provide and living in Kawagoe, I’m lucky to have plenty of traditional shops that sell them and temples that decorate their grounds with them (see slideshow above).
Do any of you have some favorite summer sounds or trinkets? Let me know in the comments!