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  • Japanese: 銅鐸 (dôtaku)

Dôtaku are bronze bell-shaped ritual items produced and ritually buried in the Yayoi period. They were typically produced within Japan using clay or stone molds and metals imported from the continent. Though bell-shaped, many scholars have expressed skepticism that they were designed to actually ring; rather, dôtaku are believed to have served some kind of ritual purpose. As many dôtaku have been found on the edges of fertile cultivable land, some scholars have suggested they may have been intentionally buried in such locations as a ritual means of encouraging agricultural production.[1]

Dôtaku have been unearthed in the historical period as early as 668; through today, as many as 400 have been found. One of the most famous is believed to have been owned at one time by Edo painter Tani Bunchô.[2] Dôtaku bearing similar or related features have been found in a wide range of sites across the Sea of Japan coast (esp. Izumo province/Shimane prefecture), Shikoku, Awaji Island, and elsewhere. While many dôtaku excavated in Izumo are believed to have been produced there, many show signs of having been produced in Kawachi province (Osaka).[3]


  1. "Two bronze bells (dôtaku)," gallery labels, British Museum.[1]
  2. Simon Kaner, "Jomon and Yayoi," Routledge Handbook of Premodern Japanese History (ed. Karl Friday), 62.
  3. Gallery labels, "Izumo and Yamato," special exhibit, Tokyo National Museum.