Since antiquity, people have devised ways to stay cool in scorching hot Japanese summers. One of these ingenious methods is the wind chime.
We introduce today the charms of the humble wind chime, a Japanese summer tradition.
According to historical manuscripts, wind chimes are believed to have been first found in ancient China. Wind chimes were originally tools of the fortune-telling trade.
They were hung from branches in a bamboo grove and one’s fortune could be read by discerning wind direction and tonal quality when the chimes sounded.
Buddhist monks are said to have first brought wind chimes with them to Japan and suspended them from temple roofs. They were used as amulets to protect residents within hearing range of the chimes from disasters.
There are also records of aristocrats in the Heian era (794-1185) hanging wind chimes in their homes for protection and this practice gradually became more popular towards the Edo era (1603-1868).
Wind chimes were originally large and made from bronze. Production of small-sized wind chimes similar to those we see today began during the Edo period after glass was introduced from the Netherlands.
However, one wind chime was still worth about 2 to 3 million Japanese yen which is 23,000-33,000 Australian dollars in modern day terms!
Today, wind chimes are much more affordable and deliver delightful tinkling sounds to many in summer.
How to enjoy wind chimes in your home
The practice of using wind chimes is disappearing due to modern housing conditions which are accompanied by noise pollution and the rampant use of air conditioners. As a result, new types of wind chimes have been introduced recently.
These include desktop wind chimes which double as interior decorations and chimes installed as doorbells at entrances.
Nevertheless, wind chimes do not only serve as interior decoration. The biggest draw of wind chimes is their crystal clear tinkling. The sound of a wind chime also has surprisingly pleasant effects on humans.
The biggest attraction of wind chimes is the sound. And the sound of wind chimes has amazing power.
Have you ever heard of the term “1/f fluctuation”? It is the sound of regular and irregular sounds in harmony. When you hear it, alpha brainwaves which evoke relaxation increase.
Some well-known examples are the sound of a burbling brook and the sound of birds chirping. The sound of a wind chime is also considered “1/f fluctuation”.
This is why people feel a sense of tranquillity when they hear a wind chime.
There has been a fascinating experiment that shows the sound of a wind chime triggering a human body’s surface temperature to fall by a few degrees.
However, this phenomenon only occurs in individuals who have memories of summer breezes and the subsequent tinkling of wind chimes.
If you have yet to try wind chimes, why not try having one in your home next summer? May a cool oriental breeze accompany you throughout the hot summer…