The Daruma Doll (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Daruma_doll) Festival in Ome, Japan was a day of firsts for us. We knew very little about it, but decided to brave the train system, crowds, and cold weather to venture out and discovery more of Japan’s rich culture and tradition.
Allow me to mention that these photos were taken with my Iphone 4s. My fancy camera did not make an appearance this day.
This was our first time to take the train in Japan. We drive everywhere because we find it is easier with two little kids. But I will say that both the kids loved it and we will have to do it again in the future.
This was our first Japanese festival. The festival was located on a main street in Ome that the city closed off for the day. The street was lined with food vendors as well as vendors selling the Daruma dolls. You can buy these dolls in a variety of sizes and colors. The doll is modeled after the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism and is seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck. The doll has also been commercialized by many Buddhist temples to use alongside goal setting. There are several colors and each color represents something different. You can see in the picture below that all the colors are shown on the sign at the top of the vendors booth. I am assuming that next to each color is a description of what that color represents. I do not read Japanese, but the friends we were with said these were the meanings they found.
- Black:chasing away evil and a successfull year
- Blue: personal achievement and success
- Gold: wealth
- Green:good health and vitality
- Orange: succes in school
- Pink:blessing in love, marriage and giving birth
- Purple:advancement in career
- Red:safety and success in every way
- White:new birth and best wishes
- Yellow:security and protection
The way this tradition works is you buy a doll and make a wish or set a goal for the new year. You color in one of the eye’s on the doll and display the doll somewhere in your home so you can see it. Your one-eyed doll is to act as a reminder of your goal or wish. When your goal is completed or your wish comes true you are to draw in the other eye. Then, at the next year’s festival you take your doll to the temple to be burned.
It was very interesting to see all the people waiting in line to burn their Daruma dolls from last year. Some of them must take this very seriously judging on the size of their dolls. Wow.
I would compare this Japanese tradition to that of our American tradition to set new year resolutions. We bought four dolls, two green ones and two blue ones. We have yet to color their eyes in and I probably will not burn them next year. I want to keep them! But we shall see.
We had an amazing time at this festival. It is still so surreal to us that we actually call this place home. We stick out like a sore thumb, but that part is kinda fun too!
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