Do you believe in luck? Wishes? Have you ever picked up a penny because it was on heads, or searched for hours on grass-stained knees for the elusive four-leaf clover? Many cultures have superstitions and good luck charms (and some have yummy cereals..). The Daruma doll is a Japanese talisman shaped like the round head of a bearded man (a visual reference to Dharma the founder of Ch’an Zen Buddhism), and is typically painted bright red. The eyes are blank and white when new. The purchaser then makes a wish,adds a pupil and patiently waits. Once the wish, or goal is realized, the other eye gets filled in.
There is an annual Daruma Doll Festival (達磨市 daruma-ichi?) held by the city of Takasaki in celebration of being the proclaimed birthplace of the Daruma doll. The celebration is held at the Shorinzan, the name of Takasaki’s “Daruma-Dera”. According to the Takasaki City website, “Over 400,000 people from all over the Kanto Plain come to buy new good-luck dolls for the year. Takasaki produces 80% of Japan’s Daruma dolls.” The festival also features a 24-hour reading of sutras by the Shorinzan monks for world peace.
The Daruma dolls make a great gift and a fun way to keep track of life’s successes. Just be careful not to wish for too many hard to reach goals, because you might end up with a room full of winking monks. Next time you are at Lexus of Bellevue, please have a look at our Daruma.. but don’t ask what the wish is for… it’s a secret.