After Japan’s terrible earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting (and brain-freezingly scary) nuclear crisis, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Japan. Japan is a country whose culture I have admired from afar for as long as I can remember.
Though it may seem trivial to trivial to focus on something so small, I wanted to write about Daruma, which are a traditional Japanese doll symbolizing perseverance, hope, and optimism, in order to add one happy, uplifting story to the thousands of tragic ones.
In Japan it is traditional to get a Daruma at the start of a new year. The owner makes a wish and colors in one eye of the Daruma.
This image is from The Revolt of the Darumas by Winifred E. Wise.
When the Daruma grants the wish, the other eye is colored in.
At the end of the year Daruma are burned in a great fire at the temple.
This cloth from Daruma Museum shows the Daruma falling down.
But like many folk icons, Daruma didn’t stay within the bounds established by tradition, as shown by the breadth of this remarkable flickr stream.
My new favorite blogger at Japanese Snack Reviews recently showed Daruma being used to sell Kit-Kats.
Hello Kitty is sometimes represented as a Daruma.
So is Mickey Mouse. (Shudder).
I even found a vintage Daruma on eBay. His eyes pop out!
You’ll find photos of those in the gallery below, as well as a reusable shopping bag from Superbuzzy uses the Daruma as a storage case for the bag. Genius!
Unfortunately the instructions for these adorable bear Daruma are entirely in Japanese.
Even more intriguing is the Daruma’s purported influence over the creation of Russian Nesting Dolls.
Below you’ll find a modern representation of a Russian Doll as a Daruma.
In lieu of, or in addition to, purchasing any of the ridiculously adorable Daruma described above, please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Japan’s natural disaster.