Japanese Folklore & References

In Fairy Tail, two bits of Japanese mythology are referenced in regards to Juvia: The Ame-Onna and the Teru Teru Bozu. What are these things? Read on to find out more.

Ame Onna

In the Fairy Tail series, Juvia is often referred to as an ame onna (雨女) by other characters. What does ame onna mean? It literally means "rain woman". Rain Women, or ame onna, come from Japanese and to some extent, Chinese mythology.

Originally in Japanese and Chinese mythology, ame onna were known as benevolent goddesses. During the day they would ride on clouds and at night would bring the rain. It is said at some point, some abandoned the skies and heavens and became corrupted, seeking out humans to feed on. It is from here that they became demons (妖怪).

As youkai, they appear haggish, drenched and often ghoulish and they like to lick rain water off their hands. They appear on dark, rainy or stormy nights and scour villages for newborn babies. It is said if they do find one, they spirit it away, leaving the new mother in grief. It's possible for grieving mothers to then lose their minds, becoming ame onna themselves. They intend to seek out what has been stolen from them and in that sense, continue the cycle.

In more modern times, ame onna can simply refer to a woman who has bad luck. An unlucky person who is jinxed and often brings misfortune to others. In western terms, it could be said she has a black rain cloud over her head.

Teru Teru Bozu

In the Fairy Tail series, Juvia is first seen wearing a teru teru bozu and later in flashbacks, is seen making them as a child. What does teru teru bozu mean? In literal terms it's "shine shine monk" (照る照る坊主). It has been around for as early as the Edo period in Japan. Some even believe its origins might be even older.

The first of its origin and name meaning are simply from the Edo period. Since little kids made them for the sun to shine, that is where the verb "to shine" (照る) comes from. As for the "monk" (坊主) part, its known as slang to refer to someone that is bald (most monks were). Bouzu was also used as pet name for little boys in that era. The Teru Teru Bozu were seen as "bald" and little boys often made them. So there is that connection.

The next origin is a little darker in reality but was later made a bit more endearing through a nursery rhyme. It was written in 1924 and is based off the following story: a monk visits a village and promises to stop the ravaging rain in the region from further ruining their crops. When the monk couldn't deliver on his promise, he was simply beheaded. Some believe that this is were the "monk" origin is from and the "to shine" is from his promise to stop the rain. Here is the translation of the song:

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it's sunny I'll give you a golden bell

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We'll drink lots of sweet sake

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
but if it's cloudy and I find you crying
Then I shall snip your head off

There is also a joke, a bit more in line with the first origin of the teru teru bozu that it means sunshine is going to reflect off a bald (re: shiny) head.

Teru Teru Bozu are often made out of paper or cloth and some string. They make a round head and tie it off with string, then using the string to hang it. It is very similar to how we make little ghost dolls out of cloth or tissue for halloween. This tradition for the most part has been done by kids, wishing for good weather before an important day such as a sports event or picnic. Once made, they are often hung in a window and a little prayer is said. In older times if good weather did come, they were drenched in sake and then sent down the river.

Want to make a Teru Teru Bozu? Then click here.