What is Nenju (Juzu)?
Nenju is a name of Buddhism prayer beads in Japanese. Nenju means ”prayer(念) beads(珠)” as each kanji letter shows. Nenju is also called Juzu.
What is the difference between “Juzu” and ”Nenju”？
Both of names mean Buddhism prayer beads. However,Juzu in Japanese stands for ”counter(数)beads(珠)”. Fundamentally, prayer beads originated to count numbers of reading sutras. That’s why people call Buddhism prayer beads Juzu as another name of Nenju.
When was Nenju originated?
Japanese prayer beads were originated and brought into Japan in 6th century with the introduction of Buddhism.
What is the difference between Japanese Buddhism Nenju and prayer beads in other Buddhism counties?
Buddhism divided into several sects in medieval period in Japan. At the same time, Nenju (prayer beads) developed into unique shapes on each sect. It is easy to recognize what sect people belong to by combinations of beads and shapes of tassels. The Nenju culture is very in rich. Therefore, so many different materials and colors are used for Nenju. Nenju is widely used not only by monks but also by local people in general.
Is the number of beads of the Nenju (prayer beads) decided?
The number of beads for long Nenju (formal prayer beads) is decided as 108, but short Nenju (simplified prayer beads) are just decided with the length of inner circumference.
Does the tassel color vary according to the Japanese sect?
No, it doesn't. It all depends on your taste, but temples are all ranked by their sect, therefore sometimes particular color is used depending on a rank of Buddhist priest.
I've never seen Nenju(prayer beads) used in Shinto. Don't they ever use Nenju?
No, Nenju (prayer beads) are not used in Shinto. But many Shinto people take Nenju with them to attend the Buddhist funeral in order to send prayers in Japan.
Does the tassel shape mean anything?
No, they do not have any particular meaning. There are several types. For example, round called "bonten fusa", twist called “yori fusa”, string called “himo fusa” and etc... You can choose according to your taste. However, formal Nenju (prayer beads) on each sect has determined shape for tassels.
I have two Nenju (prayer beads) . One is short type and the other is long type, but I don't know the difference.
In Japan, short type is regarded as simplified one and it is used for all sects. But long type is formal style Nenju, and each sect has different shape of Nenju and tassels. In Japan, long type prayer beads are more polite than short type.
I'm confused that some Zen style Nenju (prayer beads) that are used among Zen sect has a metal ring.
Zen style prayer beads are mainly used by temples, but some religious people use them as an amulet. Soto sect uses metal ring in Nenju but Rinzai sect doesn't use. There is no meaning, but this helps to tell Soto sect from Rinzai sect.
I'd like to know which bead means a talisman to keep off evil spirits, a protective charm and a good-luck charm.
In Japan, it has been said that Linden trees would bring you infinite happiness, Crystal would bring you billion times happiness and Coral would bring you hundred times happiness. They are still preferred even today.
How do I take care of Nenju (prayer beads)?
There isn't any specific way of taking care of your Nenju (prayer beads) but high-quality red coral, lapis and malachite are vulnerable to sweat, so please clean and polish them after use with dry and soft cloth. And then keep it in the box or in a pouch. For scented wood, please keep in a closed plastic box or bag. You can keep their scents longer and protect them from dryness.
Can I wash Nenju(prayer beads) with water?
No, please do not. Once Nenju get wet, especially wooden and seeds materials, it will be easily broken when it is dry. And also, those will not get beautiful polish and deeper brown color once those get wet. Please wipe them with dry and soft cloth for natural precious stones after use.
Are there some special cares depending on a material?
Deeper colored Quarts like Smokey Quarts might change its color if it gets ultraviolet rays for a long time. For wooden and seeds material products, please avoid high temperature and humidity, and also keep in the good place of the ventilation. It might be a possibility for all kinds of materials to change in quality if those get chemical products like cosmetics and hair spray.
Do wooden materials have fragrant smells?
Yes, some particular materials have. For examples, sandalwood and Agarwood have fragrance. However, not all wooden materials have fragrant smell.
What are popular Nenju (prayer beads) products in Japan?
Linden tree seed and Crystal Nenju products are popular in Japan because Linden tree seed is related with Buddha and Crystal is known as a charm against evil spirit. Both of materials are durable. Scented wood materials such as Sandalwood are also popular.
Are Nenju (prayer beads) made and assembled in Kyoto?
Yes, our Nenju are all made and assembled in Kyoto. Most of materials themselves are from overseas. However, processing and polishing beads are in Japan. Our Nenju are also made and assembled by craftsmen especially in Kyoto.
Do you sell your products directly in overseas?
We have some pop-up stores in overseas. We sell our products at Kyoto festival, local overseas department stores. For example, we have had pop-up stores in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan before. However, nations and terms haven’t settled regularly. We will inform pop-up store information through SNS every time we have. Please check our HP, Instagram or Facebook. Thank you.