If you visit Japan at a time when local events are taking place, you can easily see that they often buy local Engimono (lucky symbols), like Okinawa’s Shisa, Kumamoto’s Kiji-uma, Shigaaki-yaki No Tanuki of Shiga prefecture, or Akabeko of Fukushima Prefecture … But when it comes to the national symbol of luck, people will definitely mention two things: the Magic Cat statue Tai and Daruma dolls.
So, where do these strange dolls come from?
Daruma is a wooden doll with a round body, painted red, no eyes, no limbs, on the abdomen is written “Phuoc” and has a fierce appearance: possesses large black mustache and empty eyes. . This is one of the famous souvenirs that tourists often bring from Japan, but in fact, it is not only used in the tourism industry but also extremely popular in most families in the place. there.
The doll was taken from the image of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism in China, a cult that emphasizes the importance of meditation. The Japanese believe that his hands and feet have shrunk, becoming wrinkled and degenerated after meditating for 9 years in a cave.
During this time, Bodhidharma also cut his eyelids because he was angry because he overslept during meditation. His eyelids fell to the ground and sprouted to become the first Chinese green tea tree. And so, the Japanese have relied on this to create plump wooden dolls without limbs or eyes.
According to them, the usual red color of these tumbles is also based on the robes of high-ranking Zen masters, and the fact that it does not have eyes similar to the Bodhidharma’s act of falling asleep in meditation, therefore, not yet reached the highest enlightenment. Drawing eyes on it is similar to the act of re-attaching eyelids to Bodhidharma, allowing him to see clearly the ceiling.
The beginning of the Daruma doll is said to have started in 1697, when the abbot called Shinetsu used to draw meditation pictures every New Year at Daruma Temple, in Takasaki City. At the end of the 18th century, a man named Yamagata Goro created the original shape of the Daruma doll in the appearance of the Togaku monk, who later stuck paper on it and became the current Daruma.
Despite its origins as well as scary appearance, Daruma dolls are a symbol of prosperity and luck. The Japanese who buy Daruma will wish for one thing and draw an eye. When the wish comes true, they draw on the other eye. The reason is because having only one eye will make the doll fall into a semi-awake state, “unable to enlighten”. This “blackmail” action made it possible for the drawinger’s wishes to come true, and only then did they draw the other eye. If the wish is not fulfilled, the old doll is still burned, replaced with a new Daruma and continue the journey to fulfill the master’s dream.
Daruma dolls are often given by Japanese people for birthdays, holidays or when a person starts to make new plans in lieu of the best wishes for them. Every year, during the exam season, thousands of Daruma are offered to their children by family or friends with the blessing of luck. The Daruma became a memento after each student’s graduation. They give each other the best wishes.
And over time, of course, not every Daruma is scary.
Almost every Japanese buys a Daruma for himself, because in addition to bringing wealth to its owner, a bumper crop for farmers, helping mothers give birth easily, it protects the children are also free from illness.
It is also a symbol of recovery, a symbol of inner strength and intense will, because no matter how you shove them, Daruma dolls will return to their original positions. . This is the inspiration for the saying “Nanakorobi yaoki, jinsei wa kore kara da” (fell 7 times, got up 8 times, life starts now) of Aikido.
Its influence has also spread to many areas such as comic books – movies (As the Gods Will), or games (the Onmyoji series).
Nobody wants to remember As horror God Will Will’s Daruma?
“Golden Daruma” in Onmyoji Arena.
III. Popularity in Japan and price
Today, 80% of the Daruma made are sourced in the city of Takasaki in Gunma Prefecture. Buddhist temples also sell these Daruma. Usually a small Daruma (5cm high) will cost 500 yen, and 10,000 yen for a large Daruma (60cm), a bit expensive but many uses. In terms of colors, there are 4 colors to choose from, which are red (this is the most common color), yellow, green and white.
Thus, the place where Daruma is most concentrated is the temple. In particular, Katsuo Pagoda (Osaka, Japan) has been known as the “residence” of thousands of Daruma dolls, when from inside the temple, to the corridor, or on the mountainside, this traditional red doll appears. .