I brought home a Daruma Doll from Japan.
Even though it’s considered as one of the most popular talismans in the Japanese culture, at first I wasn’t interested in the relatively unattractive looking Daruma Doll, until I researched about Takasaki for a day trip from Tokyo. Takasaki has a famous temple called Syorinzan Darumaji where this doll was originated from. It is also where the most supply of Daruma Doll comes from.
I choose a purple Daruma doll which represents happiness instead of the traditional red colored one. At the bottom of it, there is a hole with a paper stuck inside. According to the girl who sold it to me, the paper would reveal my luck in 2018. Oh well, no pressure, Daruma doll! I waited until we reached Melbourne to take out and read it. Somehow it escaped my mind that it would be written in Japanese. I should have opened it then and there and asked her to translate it for me. Finally, I took a picture of it and sent it to a Japanese friend to be translated. His short reply came seconds later: “it’s good luck“. Okay, that’s good enough, I guess..
I have yet to draw on one eye and ask for the one goal I want to be granted this year. As it’s more about perseverance and goal-oriented, I am thinking it should be something to do with writing my book, a goal that I have been wanting to start every year, for a decade. It seems perfect as it embodies the Japanese proverb: Nanakorobi yaoki. “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” (source). But on the other hand, a wedding or a house would be great too. Gah, I should have bought three Daruma Dolls! Let me mull over it, you guys. Soon, once I know what it’s I really want this year, I will draw one eye on it.
The tradition is to keep the Daruma Doll for a year and burn it afterwards to give thanks for the granted wish and release the kami or spirit that lives in it. Does this mean I am due for another trip to Japan?
At the end of this year, I will reveal what I wish for and whether it’s granted. And if it’s, I might really go back to Japan and visit Takasaki this time (we passed it up during the last trip), to join the ceremonial burning of this wishing doll in the first few days of the new year, called Daruma Kuyo, and get a brand new Daruma Doll.
One of the things I like about Japanese culture is a tradition like this. I know it feels silly at times, but it makes me happy. Aside from Daruma Doll, I also brought back a charm from Tosho-gu temple in Nikko and an owl Kami from Oshiage. More about it next time so stay subscribed for another mini culture shock post.
Do you have a similar tradition where you grew up? What is a good luck talisman or symbol in your culture?
This post is dedicated to Vi who asked me to write more about our recent trip to Japan. See you soon, Vi!