Jun 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Photo Gallery, Temples & Shrines

No arms, no legs, but a well know symbol of good luck in Japan, Daruma dolls were first made over 300 years ago at a temple in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture in the likeness of Daruma, the Japanese name for Bodhidharma and the founder of Zen Buddhism who achieved enlightenment by staring at a blank wall for many years and who lost the use of his arms and legs as a result.

Zuiganji Temple Kuri Matsushima Japan

The small wooden Daruma pictured above were found on the grounds of the Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture.  Look closely and you will notice that each one is hand painted and carries a unique facial expression.

Daruma come in many forms, but the most common ones are bright red in color, made of paper mache and sold with the pupils left blank.  When you get one you should make a wish and draw in one of the pupils (usually the right) and when your wish comes true it is time to draw in the other pupil.  Daruma come in other colors as well with red symbolizing good luck, white representing purification and new birth and blue representing the vitality of the spirit.

The fact the that these Daruma have both eyes painted is symbolic of the persistence and dedication required by those who achieved their wishes and left their dolls at the temple in thanks.

Matsushima is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan and is located in the Tohoku region of Japan.  The Zuiganji Temple was built in 1609 and is one of Japan’s national treasures.

This and other great images of Japan can be found in The Nihon Sun Japan Photo Gallery.

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