Kodama are forest spirits depicted in the movie Princess Mononoke. Their heads act and sound somewhat like a rattle when they're rotated, as displayed in this movie clip.

I'm interested in how this rattling sound effect was made. All I could find during my research was discussions about the mythological background of Kodama, but nothing about the actual recording of their sounds.

It doesn't sound like a hollow object with some beads inside, like a maraca-style instrument.
It's also not very similar to a ratchet sound.
The closest thing I could find is a Vibraslap, but that sounds much more metallic and artificial. In contrast, the rattling sound Kodama make in the movie sound like it was produced by natural materials like bones or maybe hard wood or nut shells.

Is there any source that explains how the sound artists of the movie created the distinctive Kodama sound?

  • I don't know what it is, but you are not wrong in that it is probably some kind of man-made sound, as this is what Miyazaki is known to do. I remember watching some footage of him and the sound team making noises for Spirited Away, including how they did footsteps, but I don't think I have ever seen anything for Princess Mononake. Feb 19, 2021 at 14:46
  • I always thought it was the sound of a seed pod shaking. Huh, just did a search and seed pod rattles are a thing. Feb 22, 2021 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


The following blog post explores some of the sound effects of the movie:

The blog post mentions that the book "Princess Mononoke Roman Album" contains an anecdote about the instrument used for the Kodama sounds:

According to that anecdote, they used castanets they found in a Chinatown.

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