Japanese Traditional Lucky Charm

Daruma-jiA Daruma is an ornamental sculpture handled at the “Daruma-Ichi” (Daruma Market) at Buddhist Temples during New Years.  At Shorinzan-Darumaji Temple, the Daruma-Ichi opens during the 6th and 7th day of January.  During this period the temple crowds with several hundred thousands of visitors attending to purchase the “Engi-Daruma” (Daruma of Good Fortune).  In Japan, the Daruma represents the spirit to never give up, regardless of religious background.  There is a proverb associated with the Daruma, 「七転び八起き」 (Nanakorobi-Yaoki); direct translation is “fall down 7 times and get back up 8 times”.  The “Engi-Daruma” is purchased to wish for good fortune in the future, such as prosper of business, safety of one’s family, and success of elections or examinations.

Daruma DaishiThe name Daruma originates from Daruma-Daishi, an Indian Buddhist monk and founder of Zen Buddhism in 4th century B.C.  The teaching of Daruma-Daishi spread to Japan during the Kamakura period (1185–1333), and a religious sector commonly known as “Zen” was born.  Along with his teachings, portraits and other artworks were brought in from China.

Daruma-04Daruma sculptures are thought to originate around 200 years ago in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture.  A monk in Takasaki crafted a wooden sculpture from a portrait of Daruma-Daishi.  This monk recommended local farmers to craft and sell papier-mâché Daruma-sculptures as a side job during off-seasons of agriculture.  During the Edo-period (1603-1868), the papier-mâché Daruma developed into the “Okiagari-Daruma”, the same papier-mâché but crafted precisely so that it rolls back up after it falls down.

Since the “Okiagari-Daruma” is very light, it spurred belief that it will keep disease and sickness light. Its ability to come right back up after falling down added momentum to the belief. Further, through the course of history it came to be believed as a God of Good Fortune which brings good harvest to farmers, successful business to merchants, prosper and safety of descendants to families.

Daruma-06The DARUMA introduced at our IPPIN PROJECT STORE comes in 3 colors; red, white, and black.  These DARUMA are manufactured in Takasaki City where Daruma sculptures originate, and 80% of Daruma crafting in Japan still take place today.  The Daruma manufactured in Takasaki are known for its bold gesture of its eyebrows and mustache which represent the crane and turtle, a symbol for longevity in Japan.

The eyes are traditionally left blank at manufacture.  The owner of the DARUMA is to make a wish as they draw in one eye.  At the end of a year, or when the wish comes to fruition, the owner will fill in the other eye to express gratitude of fulfillment.   If you find yourself sympathizing passionately towards the spirit of 「七転び八起き」 (Nanakorobi-Yaoki), it will be wonderful to make a fresh start with the DARUMA.

Click here to purchase our DARUMA.  (It comes with a Japanese brush pen !! )