Every beginning of March, in Tokyo, you can join one of Japan’s three biggest daruma doll markets at the Jindaiji Temple during the Yakuyoke Ganzan Jie Daishi Festival.
Daruma dolls are typically round, made of papier-mâché or wood, with a red color and white face and can be seen in a large range of size.
The Daruma doll’s origin can be traced back to Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Bodhidharma was a monk who traveled from India to China in the 5th century, he spent nine years meditating in a cave, eventually losing the use of his arms and legs due to his prolonged meditation. Despite this, he continued to meditate and spread his teachings, inspiring many to practice Zen Buddhism. The Daruma doll is said to represent Bodhidharma in his later years, with the round shape symbolizing a meditation cushion, the red color representing his robe, and the blank white eyes emphasizing the need to focus on personal goals.
Daruma dolls serve as a motivational tool in Japanese culture, inspiring individuals to pursue their aspirations and overcome obstacles. They are often utilized as a good-luck charm, with people setting specific objectives, painting one eye of the doll, and placing it in a prominent location. When the goal is achieved, the other eye is painted in. Additionally, Daruma dolls are frequently given as gifts to individuals facing challenges or starting new ventures.