Gunma Daruma Seizo Hanbai
Since the late 18th century, we have been manufacturing Takasaki Daruma dolls in Takasaki city, Gunma prefecture. Takasaki Daruma is papier-mache dolls, and only a few manufactures produce Daruma from the base, we are one of them. Daruma craftsmen paint the face and put the letters on Daruma one by one with all their hearts, on making each one of lucky Daruma dolls to bring good luck to people who buy them.
As the feature on the face of Takasaki Daruma, noses and mustaches are represented by turtles, and eyebrows are represented by cranes. These two animals are the symbols of longevity in Japanese culture as the Japanese proverb says “The crane lives 1000 years, the turtle lives 10000 years”. Takasaki Daruma is also known as good-luck Daruma or lucky Daruma.
Daruma is modeled after Monk Bodhidharma (Daruma-daishi in Japanese) who is accredited with the founding of the Zen Buddhism sect. He originally comes from the south of India and practiced at Shorin-ji in China. It is said that he stayed there for nine years, meditating facing a blank wall in a cave behind the Temple, then sacrificed his mobility. Daruma imitates the zazen (seated) posture of Bodhidharma.
A Japanese proverb “Nana-korobi ya-oki “can be literally translated “If you tumble down seven times, stand up eight times.” (Life is full of ups and downs.) Attributed to Bodhidharma, this proverb has come to symbolize the perseverance of Japanese people. Since Daruma dolls are designed to return to the upright position if tipped over, they personify the spirit of “Nana-korobi ya-oki”.
The reason why makes Daruma dolls very popular good luck charm is Kaigen, or the opening Daruma's eyes, is one of the best known folk ritual in Japan. When people first look for their Daruma dolls, they see that the eyes are purposely left blank. Once they have found a doll to their liking, the individual purchases it and entrusts their wishes to it. They do this by painting a black pupil in the left eye of Daruma. After the wish has been fulfilled, they show their appreciation by painting in the right eye. The English expression “having both eyes open" describes well the Japanese attitude towards success and wholeness.