Daruma Dolls: Setting Goals and Achieving Success

Daruma Dolls: Setting Goals and Achieving Success

Daruma dolls are a unique and symbolic figure in Japanese culture. These small, round dolls have a rich history and represent perseverance, goal-setting, and good fortune.


What are Daruma Dolls?

Daruma dolls are iconic symbols of determination and good luck in Japanese culture. The round, hollow, papier-mâché dolls represent Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism.

They’re commonly sold at temples and shrines throughout Japan, particularly at the beginning of the year, and are used to help people achieve their goals.

Sekigahara Battlefield Monument

Daruma Dolls Stacked at a Temple in Japan

The traditional color of these dolls is red, symbolizing good luck and protection against evil spirits. However, they also come in various colors, each representing different wishes or goals, such as white for purity, gold for wealth, and black for safety.

Daruma are considered an important piece of Japanese culture and stand as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and achieving one’s goals.

A Brief History

The Daruma doll is a representation of Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk who introduced Zen Buddhism to China and Japan back in the sixth century. Daruma comes from Bodhidharma’s Japanese name, and these dolls have been used for hundreds of years to symbolize resilience and determination.

Originally crafted from paper, wood, or clay, the dolls became popular among Japanese merchants and craftsmen, who saw them as symbols of good fortune and success.

Sekigahara Battlefield Monument

Daruma doll with no eyes filled

During the Edo period (1603-1868), Daruma dolls gained widespread popularity among the general population. They were believed to bring luck in various endeavors, from business ventures to academic pursuits. The custom of making wishes or setting goals by filling in one of the doll’s eyes also emerged during this time.

How to Use Daruma Dolls

Using a Daruma doll is a simple, yet meaningful, process of goal-setting in Japanese culture. Here’s how you can use a Daruma to set and achieve your goals:

1.  Set Your Intention

Think of a specific goal or wish that you want to accomplish. It could be anything from starting a new business, learning a new skill, or overcoming a personal challenge.

2. Fill in the Left Eye

Once you’ve decided on your goal, fill in the left eye of the Daruma doll with a black marker. This symbolizes the beginning of your journey toward achieving your goal.

Sekigahara Battlefield Monument

Daruma doll with only the left eye filled

3. Display your Daruma

Put your Daruma doll in a central location where you will see it every day, such as on your desk or shelf. This serves as a constant reminder of your intention and motivates you to stay focused.

4. Take Action

With your goal in mind, take proactive steps towards achieving it.

5. Fill in the Second Eye

When you achieve your goal, fill in the second eye of the Daruma doll. This signifies the completion of your goal and the fulfillment of your wish.

Sekigahara Battlefield Monument

Daruma doll with both eyes filled

6. Celebrate Your Success

Once both eyes are filled in, take a moment to celebrate your achievement. Reflect on the journey you’ve taken and the determination it took to reach your goal.

For people that live in Japan, it’s customary to return the Daruma doll to its place of origin, typically a temple or shrine, at the end of the year. This symbolizes gratitude for the success achieved and a new cycle of goal-setting for the upcoming year.

Where can I get One?

Temples and shrines are prime spots for finding and purchasing authentic Daruma dolls. You can find them in various sizes and colors at souvenir shops near the entrance or in dedicated stalls during festivals.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto and the Asakusa district in Tokyo are excellent spots to explore for authentic Daruma dolls. Additionally, temples like Katsuo-ji in Osaka and Jindai-ji in Tokyo are renowned for their Daruma markets, where visitors can choose from a wide array of sizes and designs.

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Final Thoughts

In the modern era, Daruma dolls continue to be an integral part of Japanese culture. It stands as a timeless symbol of resilience, determination, and the pursuit of dreams.

As you explore Japan, consider bringing home a Daruma as a piece of Japanese culture and as a reminder of the importance of perseverance when it comes to achieving your own goals.