【英語も学べる日本文化エッセイ】Daruma Dolls/だるま人形(和訳付き)

【英語も学べる日本文化エッセイ】Daruma Dolls/だるま人形(和訳付き)

(by Brittney Curtis)

The most popular legend of the Daruma Doll dates back to the 5th and 6th century common era (CE), where it is said the founder of Zen Buddhism; a monk named Bodhidharma meditated in complete stillness for 9 years straight which eventually led to his limbs falling off, which is where the shape of the Daruma comes from. It is also said that he fell asleep 7 years into his 9-year meditation, he became furious with himself which led him to take a knife and cut off his own eyelids, this way he can’t fall asleep again.

The legend says that when his eyelids hit the ground they made the first tea plant sprout, which is where mythologically green tea comes from and coincidently helps you to stay awake! Some say pain and death are what inspired the red color of the Daruma doll others believe that Bodhidharma wore a red robe that signified good health and energy. The legend also goes on to say that by painting an eye on the daruma doll you are actually helping the monk to achieve enlightenment by opening his eyes to the realities of the world. No actual historical facts support these legends but it is quite entertaining.

Historically, the first version of the crafted Daruma dolls dates back to the 17th and 18th century in Takasaki. Here, the local farmers made Daruma doll charms and once blessed by monks were used for good luck in hopes of plentiful harvests. The farmers hand painted each Daruma doll, inspired to use cranes for the eyebrows and turtles or turtle shells for the mustache or cheek, since they both represent longevity. It is said that the crane represents 1,000 years and the turtle 10,000 years. Today, over two million Daruma dolls are made with the help of over a hundred local farmer families each year.

So many options to choose from with lots of different colors and sizes, every color represents different wishes and the meanings vary depending on where you read it. I found these to be the most common among all colors and meanings.

Red- Good luck and Fortune
White – Purity
Black – Wards off Evil
Blue – Work Success
Green – Health & Fitness
Gold – Ambition & Money
Pink – Love & Romance
Yellow – Fame
Purple – Honor & Self-Improvement
Orange – School Success
Silver – Social Success

Now you get to decide on your wishes/goals for the year, then dot one eye of each Daruma doll and at the end of the year if your wish came true or you achieved your goal you dot the second eye. Daruma dolls are considered everyday reminders of the “ganbaru spirit” which pushes you to do your best, persevere, and don’t give up on your goals no matter how unpredictable life gets and usually we all know doesn’t always go according to the plan. When you hit a hard patch, you can refer to the proverb that embodies the Daruma doll – Nana korobi ya oki if you “fall down seven times, stand up eight”. It feels great to push yourself, to appreciate yourself and to work hard on fulfilling your goals. You can do anything if you are motivated and determined just channel your inner Daruma doll strength. This is why the Daruma dolls have purposeful face expressions because they don’t give up when faced with difficulties, they have been made to bounce back when they are knocked over.

Every year around mid-January to February you pay the temple a visit, usually where you purchased your Daruma dolls, and attend the burning ceremony. This is called Daruma Kuyo. You bring all your dolls to the ceremony whether your goals came to fruition or not. Now regardless of the commercial aspect of it, this ritual is simply amazing because it helps you to put actual thoughts on your dreams and aspirations throughout the year and motivates you to try harder in the next coming year. We attended the Daruma Kuyo at the Sojiji Temple – Nishiarai Daishi.

It is said that being around the flames of the burning Daruma dolls releases positive energy and brings motivation to fuel your dreams. While gazing through these flames, you learn to be humble enough to accept some failures and ignite courage and optimism to renew your dreams and even make them bigger and bolder.

Now all that’s left is deciding which color and size is right for you!


「だるま人形」by ブリトニー・カーティス










(翻訳 by とら猫
(c) Brittney Curtis




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