Inaka Dictionary: 熊手 （くまで） a rake
The rake, or 熊手（くまで）”kumade” in Japanese, is a common implement in the countryside, where it’s not uncommon to wake up to the sound of someone raking their garden, walkway or even just the bare ground. The Japanese believe in ardent raking! This could stem from the name “kumade” which means “bear claw.” Nothing is more untidy to the Japanese than fallen leaves, and each and every one of them is raked up off the ground and disposed of so as not to litter a dirt pathway. Raking is also practiced in rigorous form at temples. Hardly a day goes by in the countryside when you don’t pass someone raking something somewhere. Raking is closely related to outdoor sweeping (with a broom), but we’ll save that for a different entry as we couldn’t possibly cover both of them in their entirety in one blog post!
There are a variety of kumade available. The little one pictured above is to get into those pesky little corners and crevices where fallen leaves often hide. The rake to the right is less popular, and is only used for heavy- duty work. The two rakes on the left have crooked handles because this traditional type of wooden rake, still widely used in the countryside, is made with a bamboo handle. They usually don’t have broken teeth in them either…rather unsightly!
Rakes have another role in Japanese culture, as in to “rake in fortunes” which you can read about here on Nihon Sun. Or, if it’s the “ear rake” you’re looking for (no joke!), here’s an article from The Japan Times that explains that.