This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Kagura suzu" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
17th century Suzu from Miwa, Nara Prefecture, Japan, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
17th century Kagura suzu from Miwa, Nara Prefecture, Japan, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Kagura suzu performance, 2023
Shinto priestess with suzu bells in her right hand

Kagura suzu (神楽鈴) are a set of twelve bells used in kagura dance.[1][2] The set consists of three tiers of bells suspended by coiled brass wires from a central handle: two bells on the top tier, four bells on the middle tier, and six bells for the bottom tier. The shape of the bells are thought to have been inspired from the fruits of the ogatama tree (Michelia compressa).

The term suzu () refers to small bells in general, but can refer to two Japanese instruments associated with Shinto ritual:[3]

  1. A single large crotal bell similar in shape to a sleigh bell and having a slit on one side.
  2. A handheld bell-tree with small crotal bells strung in three levels on a spiraling wire.

The larger form may be hung from a rafter in front of a Shinto shrine and sounded by a robe or ribbons that hang within reach of the worshipper. The smaller suzu is supported atop a handle and is held by female shrine attendants (miko) costumed in traditional robes, white-powdered faces, and wearing Heian-period coiffure during performances of Kagura dances.

Kagura (神楽, lit.'god-entertainment') is a term encompassing Shinto instrumental music, songs, and dances performed at shrines and at court. It was formalized as early as 773 CE, when it appeared in the palace repertoire. These small bells, ritual implements of great antiquity, may also be grouped together in bundles for folk and ceremonial performances.


See also


  1. ^ 国語大辞典(新装版) [Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 1988.
  2. ^ 大辞林 [Daijirin, Third Edition]. Tokyo: Sanseidō. 2006. ISBN 4-385-13905-9.
  3. ^ "Suzu". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 19 February 2016.