Daruma

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Daruma (Dharma) ’B–

The Daruma doll made of papier mache is one of the most popular New Year talismans in Japan. It is used as a charm to fulfil some special wish, such as success on an examination, or election to public office. Candidates paint one eye in black when the wish is made and the second eye after the wish is fulfilled. Daruma symbolises discipline, determination, and sacrifice to achieve the success. The doll represents Bodhidharma, an Indian sage who introduced Zen Buddhism to China in the 5th century. According to a legend Dharma attained enlightenment (satori) after meditating in a cave for nine years losing his arms and legs. A saying about Dharma goes Nana korobi yaoki (If you fall down seven times, get up eight). 

I stole a shot of an ink drawing of Dharma at Daitokuji-Daisen-in temple, where Zen monk Kokei resided. He stole Rikyufs head from the public display at the riverside of Kamo (ref Taikoh Hanami Gyoretsu - Rikyu). When asked how long it took to paint a portrait of Dharma, the great Zen monk and artist Hakuin (1685-1768) replied: Ten minutes and eighty years.


Haijima Daishi Daruma Ichi, Akishima, Tokyo
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During the Daruma Ichi (Daruma Market) more than 100 open-air stalls sell Daruma dolls of all types and sizes in the precincts of the Haijima Daishi Temple in Akishima on the outskirts of Tokyo. There is also an annual burning ritual of old dolls. 

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Shirakawa Daruma Ichi, Shirakawa
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Shirakawa daruma market is a traditional event, which heralds the coming of spring in Shirakawa. Daruma dolls jointed up with the hundreds of years old Hana Ichi (Flower Market) under the order of Lord Matsudaira Sadanobu. When he became the lord at the age of 26 Japan suffered from the great Tenmei famine. Young Sadanobu rose to the challenge and adopted specials programmes. One of his ideas was to add Daruma products to the flower market. Sadanobufs efforts resulted in success when a painter, inspired by tsuru (crane), kame (turtle), matsu (pine), take (bamboo), and ume (plum), made sample pictures of Daruma. Shirakawa lost no life from the famine as well as Yonezawa which also successfully developed a number of products under the command of Lord Uesugi Yozan (ref Uesugi Yukidoro Matsuri). Today Daruma Ichi is more popular than Hana Ichi.



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