The Japanese daruma doll is quite strange looking. The doll is round and does not have any legs or arms. The doll has a mustache and a beard. The eyes consist of only blank round circles. The daruma doll is very auspicious! These Japanese dolls are a symbol of Bodhidharma. He is considered the founder of Zen Buddhism in China.
The practice of making Daruma dolls in Takasaki can be traced back to 1783, when a famine hit the area. A priest at Shorinzan Daruma-ji, the local temple, taught local farmers to make the dolls so they would have something to sell during times of economic hardship. Combined with the society’s faith in – and need for – good luck charms, these dolls became incredibly popular all over Japan, with manufactures in Takasaki now producing the vast majority of Japanese Daruma.
The idea is that when you receive or purchase a new doll need to make a wish or set a goal. The wish or goal must be measurable and specific. A vague wish will do no good. Next you need some black ink. Concentrate on your wish or goal and fill in the right eye using the black ink. Now place the doll on a high self where you will see it often. Every time you look at the doll, you need to remind yourself of your wish or goal. When your wish comes true or you have reached your goal, you fill in the left eye with black ink. Many people will write their goal or wish on the back side of the doll when the goal is reached.
Traditionally the magic powers of the daruma doll will last for one year. If the wish did not come true within the year, the doll may be taken to the temple for burning. The burning of the daruma doll is a purification process to set the kami free. The kami is the spirit within the daruma. This absolutely does not indicate a failure or that the owner of the doll has abandoned their wish. It is rather a renewal of the goal or wish, making sure the wish will be preserved in the next year to come. The burning of the daruma dolls is a special ceremony performed by the monks in Japan. It is held once a year right after New Year. A new doll is purchased. The process of filling in one eye while making a wish is repeated.