Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daruma Dolls

These are daruma dolls だるま. They are a common sight in Japan . They are a paper mache doll used for making a wish. They are modeled after and take their name from Bodidharuma, the legendary Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism to Japan from China. The dolls are hollow paper mache with a weighted bottom so the always turn right side up like roly-poly or whebble-whobble dolls. When you buy them, the eyes are blank. You paint the left eye black to make your wish or set your goal. You paint the right eye after it comes true. They are a common gift for new businesses, politicians during a campaign, or for students before a big test. They have different kanji or Chinese characters written on them for different occasions, but are often associated with th phrase "nanakorobi yaoki" 七転び八起き which translates "Seven times down, eight times up." which basically means never give up no matter how many times you fall down. You can buy them anywhere, even at the 100 yen(dollar) store. They are usually red, but I saw a show on TV, that in Hokkaido and northern Japan, they are usually blue. They are beautifully designed and definitely show a Russian influence. Recently, it became popular to paint them blue like the Japanese soccer team uniforms before the Women's world cup. They won, I guess maybe the daruma worked.

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