Thursday, 15 September 2011

Reminiscences of Summer in Japan: Fūrin

Image: Wikipedia
Fūrin, a type of wind-chime or windbell, are hung outside homes and businesses in Japan during the hot summer months in an attempt accentuate any passing breeze, however light. As anyone that has spent time in Japan during the summer will know, it can get pretty sticky with high humidity and high temperatures everyday. To distract themselves from the stifling heat Japanese people hang out their fūrin in the hope that its gentle 'ting' will draw their attention to fleeting gusts of air and make them feel cooler. Fūrin are part of Japan’s summer imagery along with hanabi or fireworks, yukata, and katorisenko (the pig-shaped incense burners used to repel mosquitoes) and are often used in anime, TV programmes and films as a way of setting a summery scene.

A fūrin in action...

Fūrin used to advertise summery noodles ...

On my recent Japan-themed trip to London I visited the Japan Centre and purchased my very own fūrin. I chose one with fish bowl-shape decorated with bright orange goldfish and watery green plants. The image of the goldfish in their bowl is itself cooling but the sound of its red cord striking against the glass bowl seems distinctly Japanese to me and brings back happy memories whenever I hear it chiming away.

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan


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