I was surprised to find a hashioki shaped like the ghost that I associate with the Western holiday Halloween.
It turns out this isn’t a ghost at all, which may be why it’s smiling and looking so unintimidating. This is a teru teru bozu, or “shine shine monk.” It’s a kind of charm that is supposed to bring good weather and prevent rain. They were traditionally made from white cloth and hung on a string by farmers hoping for good weather; today they are more likely to be made from paper or tissues by children hoping that tomorrow’s weather will be good for an outing or ball game.
Teru teru bozu are a little like daruma (see my Daruma post from August 2016), in that the maker is supposed to make and hang them without facial features, and then draw the eyes in if their wish for good weather is granted. Bozu is an informal word used to refer to Buddhist monks, and is also reportedly a nickname for little boys with close cropped hair.
Maybe a teru teru bozu made by a bozu has more power?