As first-hand experience is teaching us, the Japanese summer is very hot and thanks to the high humidity, very stuffy. Any breeze is most welcome.
To provide psychological relief, wind bells (風鈴, furin) are hung next to windows or under the eaves of houses to mark the passing of a refreshing breeze. These bells are mostly made from glass or iron with a paper strip to catch the wind attached to its clapper with a string.
We had already purchased some wind-bells along the way, a pig-shaped one on our very first visit to Asakusa, and an iron “three harmony” in Kyoto. So we were very sympathetic to the idea of visiting the famous wind bell market in Kawasaki which is taking place these days.
Kawasaki is located in the Southern part of this monster which goes by the name of Greater Tokyo. From Asakusa, it is reached very conveniently in less than one hour. The market is held on the grounds of the Kawasaki Daishi (川崎大師), one of the three most important temples in the Kanto Area and head temple of the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism. Several buildings belong to the temple apart from the main hall, such as an impressive gate and a 5-story pagoda. Neither is the turtle pond missing.
The furin ichi is an attraction which is attended by sellers of wind-bells from all over Japan, each selling a characteristic style of bell. The air is full of chimes and crowds of people edge themselves along the stands to admire bells of any conceivable shape.
We cruised the grounds several times to get a good overview before committing ourselves – so many choices! Needless to say that in the end, some pieces were added to our collection.
Like the Senso-ji in Asakusa, also the Kawasaki Daishi has its shopping street by the name of Nakamise-dori. The Kawasaki one is resounding with rhythmic claps. They are produced by the people cutting the dough for the local candy, Tontoko Ame, into small pieces. The cutting itself isn’t even all that noisy, but the time in between they fill with rhythmic clapping of their big knives on the cutting board, turning the act of preparing the candy into a spectacle by itself. Of course we had to buy some!