It’s that time of year in Japan when you want to open your window, and let the cooling breeze drift inside.
And there is a perfect object that is paired to this time of year: the furin, or you may know it as the wind chime.
Originally thought to ward off evil spirits, furin can be made of glass or iron, and take the form of a bell of varied shapes which flutters gently in the summer breeze.
A long strip of paper hanging from the clapper in the center waives in the wind to cause the bell to make a soft tinkling sound, which is associated with a cooling feeling to combat the summer heat.
There are Japanese shops that have been developing this craft for decades, and in some cases centuries, and they are continuing to work hard even during COVID-19.
Glass dominates the furin style in Tokyo, and one longtime establishment known for its summer specialty is Shinohara Furin Honpo, located in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo.
This shop has been specializing in the round glass bell-shaped decorations known as Edo furin for more than 100 years, referring to the traditional name for Tokyo.
The glass furin are blown by hand on a one-meter pole, and then the bells are hand-painted from the inside with designs that recall the season, such as goldfish, fireworks or sunflowers.
This year, due to COVID-19, the shop is also making a furin with the image of Amabie, the proverbial cute mythological creature part mermaid, part bird thought to ward off epidemics.
Shinohara Furin has nevertheless been affected by the recent state of emergency restricting life in Tokyo and other areas in Japan. The shop has been asked to close its door to walk-in customers, and therefore is only operating the shop online.
The owner of the establishment, Emi Shinohara (66) commented to The Sankei Shimbun: “Since people aren’t going out, and are spending more time at home, we would like them all to be soothed by the soft sound of Edo furin!”
What is your hidden wonder of Japan? Upload your picture here.
(Click here to read the related story in Japanese)
Author: Sankei Shimbun