Translated by Michiyo Nakashima
Make Your Own Japanese Wind Chime At Shinohara Furin Honpo In Tokyo
Written by Mai Kawabe
Shinohara Furin Honpo is one of the oldest Japanese wind bell manufacturers in Tokyo. They offer a course where you can learn how to create your own wind bell step by step.
Furin is a Japanese wind chime Introduced from China by monks, used to know the direction of the wind and a charm against evil. The soothing sound of these wind bells is known a symbol of summer in Japan. The tender, refreshing sound created by wind is said to relieve people from the heat and humid of Japan’s summer. Furin can be made from many different materials such as iron, glass, ceramic and even charcoal.
Today, we will introduce you to Shinohara Furin Honpo, a traditional furin maker in Tokyo where you can make your own glass wind bell.
Shinohara Furin Honpo - Home to Traditional Edo Furin
Shinohara Furin Honpo is a family owned furin business in Edogawa, Tokyo.
The traditional Edo Furin (Edo is the former name of Tokyo) is made of glass. It is said that the predecessor of the shop named it Edo Furin himself in the Showa period. It is a traditional craft that requires an extensive training.
Make Your Own Edo Furin!
At Shinohara Furin Honpo you can book a class which teaches you how to make your very own glass furin. The material is the same glass that is used for windows.
Can you imagine this pile of glass turning into a beautiful wind bell?
1. Create the Perfect Round Shape
If you book the full course then the first step will be blowing the glass body of the bell. You can also book an option that will just show you how to paint the wind bell. Even though the traditional glass furin is round, nowadays you can find them in many different shapes. However, in this class, we will focus on the traditional round furin.
The heat inside the furnace is about 1320 degrees. The glass is melted inside the furnace and the artisan winds a lump of glass around a long iron pipe. Now you will have to try to make turn the heated glass into a small round shape in order to blow air inside the glass. It is a lot more difficult than it looks.
After you created the round shape, you start putting some air inside the small ball of glass
Be careful! It blows up very easily. According to the artisan, it takes three years to create a perfectly round shape. If you want to be a professional furin maker, you even need to train for about 11 years.
Don’t worry if your ball of glass doesn't blow up perfectly the first couple of times, the artisan will assist you.
Let's try again.
Carefully blow the air inside the glass to create the shape. You'll have to blow a little harder this time as the glass is slowly cooling down.
Turn the pipe will blowing up the glass so it creates an even round shape.
2. The Edge Creates the Sound
Next, it needs to rest on sand in order to cool down. At this point, the glass is still about 800 degrees hot and looks more like a glass pear than a wind bell.
About 20 minutes later, the artisan cuts the bottom part of the glass with a sharp stone.
The stone is used to create a rougher edge. When a little stick inside hits a rough edge, it produces a more soothing sound.
You can never achieve the same kind of edge twice if you cut glass with a stone, so the sound of each furin is slightly different.
3. Create Your Own Colors And Patterns
It is time to paint your wind bell. The design will be painted on the inside of the glass so the images won’t vanish to quickly due to wind and rain.
Be careful while painting. The edge of the glass is sharp.
I painted a firework design inside my wind bell. When you are done, attach a strip of colorful paper and your original wind bell is done! The whole process will take about one to two hours. Now you can hang your furin in a window at your house and marvel at its beauty
You Own Piece of the Japanese Summer
The refreshing sound and vibrant look of a furin are supposed to make you feel make you feel cooler during the hot days of summer. Making one for yourself is definitely a special and unique experience! You can make your reservation per email and some of the staff even speaks English so why not taking home a unique, self-made souvenir from Japan?
Photos taken by Keita Sugano