Tag Archives: daruma

Daruma Wishes

At a Takasaki temple, in the city where Daruma were created, every year you can go there, buy a wooden Daruma and string you wish onto a wishing post. As you can see, on the front is the traditional face and on the back you write your wishes for the new year.

And on a different post / tree (I’ve seen both), you can tie your bad luck. I’ve been told that you can only tie it with your non-dominant hand to let it “fly away”. Mine (tied with my left hand) was still there later. (Does that mean I kept it?) :-<

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Posted by on 18/01/2012 in Places, Religion


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New Year = New Daruma

Well, hello! Long time no write (which is completely my fault). I got a little snowed under, but I’ve pushed myself out and I’m coming back to Momiji Leaves with some more awesome pictures. I’m going to change the updating a little bit though. While my resolution for 2011 was to post a picture a day, and I did manage to get through most of the year, it was a bit hectic at times. I’m going to try to go to a three days a week timing, Monday – Wednesday – Friday. But we’ll start today with some special New Year photos 😉

I like to think of them as Decapitated Darumas (they kind of look like it, on the stick and all). Wait, aren’t they supposed to be red? And have a mustache? Well, yes, but this is before. I was able to go to Takasaki and see some daruma before they got painted! Pretty neat, huh?

This soulless looking thing was my empty Daruma that I was going to paint for the year of 2012. (Personal Daruma is not being shown since I don’t want to get lynched for destroying it) And below is the guy who made it look easy! (Pick up -> Paint -> Finish = >3 minutes) [And yes, before the new year this is a part time job he picks up. His family has been doing it for generations].


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Posted by on 16/01/2012 in Holidays


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Takasaki View 1

Ah, Takasaki. I wouldn’t mind living there as it’s about 30 minutes by train from my town of Isesaki, but oh well. I still like my city too. 🙂

The home of Daruma and the biggest Daruma festival in Gunma, Takasaki is a very big city, even bigger than the capital of the prefecture. Near the station are many restaurants (Korean, Mexican, Turkish to name a few varieties) and other fun places like; the park (filled with carp and beautiful sakura), Animate (for all your anime needs), the Beer Garden (all you can eat / drink for a limited time on the top of a building) and a museum (hosting an Egyptian mummy exhibit for whoever’s interested).

And for the English bookworm…a small free library at the city hall. 😉

(Yes mom, before you ask, my home library is still better).

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Posted by on 13/04/2011 in Places


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the Last Daruma

I promise, this will be the last post about Daruma. 🙂

Okay, so the eyebrows and the cheeks, did you think about the animals? Hopefully. Did you think of turtles and cranes? Probably not…the eyebrows are supposed to resemble a crane, who is said to live 1,000 years, and the cheeks are the pattern off of a turtle, who lives 10,000 years. This adds longevity to the goal of the person dotting the eye of the Daruma.

That’s right…when you make your goal, you fill in only one eye. When you reach the goal, you fill in the other eye. Then, around the beginning of January, you take your Daruma to a shrine (or portable shrine, like in the picture below). Toss a coin in the box, say a short thank you / prayer, and then go out a buy a new one from one of the stalls.

What happens to the Darumas afterwards? They’re gathered up by priests, then chanted over as they’re all burned at the shrine.

Poor Darumas…

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Posted by on 12/01/2011 in Functional Things, Religion


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Isesaki Daruma

Yep, another post about Daruma…’cause honestly, there’s a lot to know about them. So, where do you buy Daruma? Especially for the beginning of the year?

You buy them at the town fair!

Where all these cool men and women are selling them from stalls! If you look closely, you can see red, black, yellow, pink, white and blue Darumas of all sizes.

So, this is the main street of my town, Isesaki, and today was the Daruma festival (yeah, weirdly enough on a Tuesday…) Also, so you don’t get too disappointed, our festival is a LOT smaller than the neighboring cities of Maebashi or Takasaki (where the Daruma was originally created). Amusingly enough, one of the stall owners, who was selling crepes, had also been in Maebashi on the 9th and she remembered seeing me and my husband there!

Anyhow, back to the Daruma. As you can see, they’re eyeless. When you buy one, you make a resolution and fill in one eye. Then, through the year, it’ll help remind you to make progress on your goal.

Okay, here’s your task for the day. I’ve put up three different pictures of Daruma by this point. You need to look at the eyebrows, do you see the shape of any type of flying animal?

And look at the cheek hair…does it look like an animal’s pattern?

Feel free to leave your guesses in the comment section below!


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the Isaac Daruma

There is an expression about the Daruma, “seven times down, eight times up.”

This is because the dolls are weighted on the bottom so that it will always come back up when knocked over, and the expression is why the Daruma is said to bring happiness and prosperity, while warding off accidents and bad luck (or recovering from misfortune).

Here’s a Daruma one of Isaac’s student’s grandfather made the traditional way; from crushed animal bone and shell (and some other stuff). On the left, in gold, it says “wishes for success” and the right side says “wishes for safety and commune.” In the middle, in black, it says “Isaac” in Japanese (well, as best it can…) 🙂

In the past, they all used to be one color, red. The main theory of thought is that the monk had a red robe. Nowadays, you can find them in many colors. including the original, each representing a different hope; blue -> progress, green -> fertility / relaxing, yellow -> health / safety, etc.) Since they are sold in the beginning of the year, you can sometimes find Daruma either colored as the zodiac animal (yellow and black for the year of the Tiger) or with some extra parts (bunny ears on the top for the year of the Rabbit).


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Posted by on 10/01/2011 in Functional Things, Religion


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Wibble Daruma

Wibble: The act of making a cute awwww face when confronted with something adorable. Like this!

Isn’t he cute? Look at those eyes! And that little cat grin! I found him in the capital city (Maebashi) of my prefecture (Gunma). He’s a daruma, a paper-mâché doll made from the legend of a monk named Bodhidharma from India…only this particular one is on a poster. Today, we’ll have the the tale of the Daruma, and on Tuesday I’ll talk about why Japan uses it.

So, Bodhidharma was supposed to have been the third son to a king in India. Following instructions from his master, he went to China and sat in meditation for a period of seven / nine years. Since he didn’t move for that entire time, his legs and arms atrophied. He also decided to cut off his eyelids to acoid falling asleep again after he fell asleep for the first time. And this is the legendary story of the cute thing pictured above…

On a side note, if you’re still not too disgusted…his discarded eyelids supposedly sprouted the first tea plant…

Daruma (Da Irish Da – ru rue – ma Ma) – let’s not forget our Japanese lesson!


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