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Bells can be made of earthenware, metal, pottery, etc.
When they are shaken they make a noise and are used for a huge variety of purposes, including: music, summoning the gods at a shrine, charms, key chains, and religious services.
They have been excavated from the site of a jomon period (14,000-300BC) settlement so we know that they have been made since the earliest days.
It was originally believed that bells possessed a kind of special spiritual or magical power, and that is why they are still used in important religious ceremonies, sacred dances, or when praying at a shrine.
But today small bells are also used on key rings or attached to small children's sandals and other mundane objects, becoming so common that paradoxically, people have forgotten their original significance.
The sound produced by bells is one that is favored by the gods, and it is said to be able to purify and banish evil.
Furthermore, Japanese people believe that the action of shaking a bell possesses a strange potency.
This can be seen in the way that the portable shrines are shaken and rocked during festival processions.
This shaking produces vibrations in the atmosphere, and people believe that this movement imbues the gods with vigor.