Suzy Kodama Amulet

Vintage Japanese Omamori Shinto Shrine Bell / Suzu | Rare Kodama Amulet

Age:Showa period (1989)

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 1-0”dia

THIS IS NOT YOUR COMMON OMAMORI — Most people will be familiar with Kodama as the little tree spirits which appeared in Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, but it’s the name of this amulet as well. It’s a small wooden bell which, when shaken, makes a sound similar to what the Kodama in Princess Mononoke story. This piece was not sold on the entrances of Temples, but comes from Meiji Shrine in Tokyo as a special and unusual charm from Katsushi Toyama, chief priest, to a special shrine patron, dignitary or sensei to afford positive power and authority, while repelling evil. This particular piece is made from these sacred tree which are discharged from the service of protecting the sanctified grounds of a shrine. It smells of cypress, and is said to hold the spirit of a tree inside. Being made of cypress, no two Kodama charms are alike and different because of the individual nature of each tree. This bell is hollow with a small slit on the bottom, and contains pellets that creates a quiet sound, (being formed from one piece of wood there is no indication of how the piece was hollowed out and how pellets were placed inside). This bell dates from the mid Japanese Showa period, and has a burned-in seal and sign of the maker along with s short blessing.

Condition: This beautiful small bell is in perfect, original condition, has a wonderful cypress fragrance and exemplifies the beauty of wood from this special tree. This bell would make a beautiful decorative item and conversation piece, and represents a rare opportunity to honorably possess an authentic artifact of the native Shinto religion of Japan where worship of the natural environment is paramount. Objects like this were produced by hand and considered of higher quality due to the richer and melodious attention to craftsmanship. 

NOTE: Kodama — “If a tree falls in the forest, and someone hears it, is that the plaintive cry of a Kodama”? Because that is what ancient, tree-worshipping Japanese people believe. The Japanese have always known that some trees were special. For whatever reason—maybe because of an interestingly shaped trunk, or a sequence of knots resembling a human face, or just a certain sense of awe—some trees were identified as being the abodes of spirits. Depending on where you lived, these spirits went by many names. But the most common term, the one that is still used today, is Kodama. Special woods from trees also formed the basis for the design of the Kokeshi doll produced throughout Japan, originally created in 1700s paying particular attention to the characteristics of cultural and social history or departed loved ones.

Around the Edo period, Kodama lost their rank as gods of the forest and were included as just one of Japan’s ubiquitous yokai. Kodama became humanized as well—there are stories of Kodama falling in love with humans and taking human shape in order to marry their beloved.