The Japanese solution for clutter clearing teddy bears

Japanese dolls

Many thanks to Machiko, who wrote to tell me about the fascinating practice of Ningyo Kuyo in a Japan. She says, “I read your article on clearing Teddy Bears with great interest.  I am not sure if my tip will help people living outside of Japan, but a lot of temples hold ceremonies there to thank and part with worn-out dolls and teddy bears.”

She says this is a ceremony offered at many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. People bring (or in some cases, mail) dolls and teddy bears they no longer use, and for a small fee (around ¥ 3,000-5,000) a Ningyo Kuyo ceremony is performed.

In Buddhist temples the ceremony consists of a sutra being recited for the dolls or bears, followed by a ritual purification called Otakiage (burning in fire). In the Shinto tradition, the ceremony begins with Mitama Nuki to remove the Mitama (soul or spirit) from the dolls or bears, then there is then a prayer for the owners, and finally there is an Otakiage purification with fire.

Holding ceremonies for letters that for some reason are not able to reach their intended recipients, and everyday objects such as sewing needles, pens and ink brushes, to thank them for their services, has been part of Japenese history for a long time. So it seems to have been a natural evolution to devise similar ceremonies for dolls.

Machiko says that in her case, when she cleared out her old teddy bears, she simply thanked them and took them out as regular trash.

‘It was my simplified version of the ceremony,’ she says, ‘and I believe that it is more environmentally friendly. Although many people may not have the chance to use the services offered in Japan, I believe that certain forms of ceremony, such as offering flowers, incense, food you used to enjoy with teddy bears as a child, and thank-you cards (the cards may go with the teddy bears or stay with you), may help them with clutter clearing teddy bears.’

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2007

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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One Response to The Japanese solution for clutter clearing teddy bears

  1. I absolutely love this idea. My mom’s side of the family still lives in Japan, so the next time I visit (this doesn’t happen terribly often), perhaps I’ll be ready to give up my old Totoros (stuffed-animal depictions of a forest sprite from a Japanese animated film)! Thank you for the info, Machiko & Karen!

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