View Full Version : For our Ino Trainees: Of Bells and Mokugyos

04-29-2022, 10:52 PM
Dear Inos in Training,

I have been asked about bells and mokugyo drums.

In a Zen temple, there are dozens of different bells, drums and other musical items (here is more about that topic than you surely need to know):


One example is the "mokugyo" fish drum, so called because ... it is shaped loosely like a fish (I have heard various explanations why, something about fish always being alert.) Some can be quite large, and would take up quite a bit of space in your room! :)


But for our ceremonies, we can keep it simple.

So, any kind of bell or other object which provides a nice "ping" when lightly struck will be an excellent bell. If you want, at some point you can find a little bell like this online (and sometimes in local Asian markets). However, truly, try not to pay more than $15 or so for a little bell. Small is fine (the smaller the bell, the closer to the microphone! :encouragement:) Sometimes they come with a little pillow to rest on:


Tibetan "singing" bells are a little different from Japanese bells, but are fine for our purposes.

A handbell like this (this is Chinese style) is fine as well, but a little trickier though, as you need two hands to work bell and mokugyo when switching between them:


A "mokugyo" can be any piece of wood which resonates with a nice "tok tok tok" when struck. Any wood is fine. If you are a little handy, you might nail or glue something which is raised a bit and does not need to be held. So long as it makes a nice woody sound when struck, it is fine. Any shape at all, maybe something like this:


In any case, simple is best. It is okay to re-use items you already have at home, no need to hunt outside.

Gassho, Jundo