In Japan, there are various types of prayer beads. When Prince Shotoku introduced Chinese Buddhism to Japan, prayer beads were also introduced. Over time, some bead shapes were adopted from China, but there was no fixed form. The only rule for prayer beads is to have 108 beads.
About 1,200 years ago in Kyoto’s Mount Hiei, many monks practiced Buddhism. New styles of Buddhism were established one after another. The ideas and usage of prayer beads varied among these different traditions, leading to the evolution of prayer beads into more convenient forms.
What’s fascinating is the wide variety of prayer bead designs. The number and arrangement of beads are determined for religious reasons, and various tassels are added. Similar to fashion, the shapes have been developed based on the technology and trends of the time.
In the modern day, there are familiar prayer bead forms in each sect and region. However, there is often no fixed official shape for prayer beads.
So, which type of prayer beads should we acquire? The answer can vary depending on the sect, region, and even gender. This is not a form of discrimination, but rather a way to respect ancestors, elders, and regional traditions.
When selling prayer beads, I place great importance on these considerations. While there are often prayer beads labeled as “suitable for anyone” and sold at very low prices, I believe it’s important to understand how customers intend to use them before selling.