Japanese Daruma Dolls

The daruma doll is one of Japan’s most recognizable good luck charms. However, when buying a daruma doll, it will generally come without any eyes, which is why in this article, we’ll explain how to give the daruma its eyes and the significance behind this ritual. Make sure to read carefully, as the daruma doll will not grant your wishes if you paint its eyes incorrectly! We will also introduce a few recommended daruma dolls, and explain how to dispose of them abroad.

Which Daruma Eye Should You Paint First?

Daruma dolls are sold without eyes, making it generally up to the buyer to paint them on themselves. After making a wish, paint on one eye, and if your wish comes true, paint on the other.

You normally start with the right side (the daruma doll’s left eye) and follow up with the other (daruma doll’s right eye) once your prayers have been answered. The eyes of the daruma doll are said to represent the A-un, which in Buddhism symbolizes the beginning and end of all things. The left eye is the “a” (the beginning) and the right is the “un/hum” (the end), making this the correct sequence to paint the doll’s eyes.

If your wish comes true and the daruma doll gets both its eyes, you’ll need to dispose of it properly during a Buddhist memorial service. In Japan, this can be easily done by bringing it to the place you bought it from, or by taking it to a shrine where it will be ceremoniously burned. As this is done to show gratitude for the doll answering your prayers, it’s important to do it properly.

What If You Make a Mistake?

Some may accidentally paint on the daruma doll’s right eye first, but fret not! The act of painting the eyes is lucky in itself, so even if you mess up, the daruma doll will not lose any of its power.

So, if you have a daruma doll with one painted right eye, just display it normally and let it work. If your wish comes true, paint its left eye and then properly dispose of it.

>>How to Dispose of a Daruma Doll Abroad

The Meaning Behind Daruma Dolls

Daruma dolls are often used when people are facing some kind of challenge and want to pray for success.

There are actually many secrets hiding behind the daruma doll’s scary-looking face. For example, the shape of the doll itself is modeled after the meditating Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen school of Buddhism.

Most daruma dolls are red as it has long been seen as a lucky color that wards off evil in Japan.

Other Daruma Doll Colors

When most people think of daruma dolls, they tend to picture them as red, however, the dolls actually come in a wide range of colors. As each one means a different thing and helps certain wishes come true, it’s important to choose the right daruma doll for whatever you’re praying for.

So, what do the different daruma doll colors mean?

・Black: Success in business
・Gold: Fortune with money and at work
・Silver: Safe childbirth
・Yellow: Helping dreams come true
・Pink: Romantic success
・Blue: Academic success
・White: Success in exams

There are numerous other colors as well, each having its own unique meaning. Colorful daruma dolls are also frequently used for feng shui, so make sure you choose a color best suited to your needs.

▶ Interested in purchasing your own Japanese doll? Check out all the available options here.

4 Recommended Daruma Dolls

(Edo Kimekomi) Kakinuma Dolls Edo Daruma (Large) Great Seer Red

Edo Kimekomi dolls are a traditional Japanese craft produced in Tokyo and Saitama whereby wooden carvings are adorned by cloth pushed into specially cut grooves. This Edo Kimekomi daruma doll is a beautiful example of these marvelous techniques. Its delightful appearance makes it the ideal gift for special occasions - although it works just fine for yourself! It’s hard not to love the cute, round figure sitting adorably on its mattress. Because of the small size, it also works well as a stylish interior decoration.

Being the color of fire, red daruma dolls are said to bring luck with an ever increasing burning intensity. It’s common to give these types to people starting a new business or opening up a store.

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(Edo Kimekomi) Kakinuma Dolls Edo Daruma (Large) Great Seer White

This elegant white daruma doll is said to rid your house of bad energies and bring you good fortune. Adorned with gold, it exudes a sublime energy, which, when placed near the door, will bring nothing but good luck to your household. Of course, when painting on its eyes, remember to start with the left one. For this, because the doll is rather small, we recommend using something like a fine-tipped permanent marker.*

White daruma dolls are used to pray for the safety and wellbeing of one’s family, making them popular housewarming gifts.

*You can also attach a cloth eye to the daruma doll, which comes with the doll. Using a fine-tipped permanent marker is fine, but be careful of any ink seeping out.

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(Edo Kimekomi) Kakinuma Dolls Edo Daruma (Large) Yuzen Gold

This daruma doll really makes a statement with its stunning gold coloring and beautiful patterns. While on the smaller side, it has a big presence that will brighten up any room. Because of its large pattern, it’s equally lovely when viewed from the back or any other angle.

Gold daruma dolls are said to increase financial fortune, and are thus often used when praying for success in business and life. Along with Japan, the golden daruma doll is also quite popular in China.

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(Edo Kimekomi) Kakinuma Dolls Edo Daruma (Large) Nishijin Black

This black daruma doll is made with Nishijin fabric along with Edo Kimekomi techniques. Featuring golden patterns on a stark black, it emanates high class and luxury. Each daruma doll is made one by one by hand, and the resulting beauty of the finished product is so great, you could admire it for hours. As the doll is small enough to fit in one’s palm, it can be freely placed anywhere in the house.

Black is a powerful, dominating color that can’t be dyed over, which is why it’s said to ward off evil and protect from harm. If you’ve been experiencing a string of bad luck, then this doll will help cleanse the air around you.

Learn more about this product:

How to Dispose of a Daruma Doll Abroad

If you’re living abroad, chances are there isn’t a shrine nearby to help you dispose of your daruma doll correctly. That being said, we don’t recommend simply throwing such a lucky item away carelessly like garbage.

Instead, try the following:
・Wipe it clean.
・Place it on a sheet of white paper large enough to wrap around it.
・Sprinkle it with purifying salt.
・Wrap the doll in the white paper.
・Express your gratitude and dispose of it in the garbage.

White paper and salt are considered sacred in Japan and many Japanese people who can’t access a shrine often dispose of their used daruma dolls in this way. While you don’t need to make a huge ceremony out of it, it’s important to express your gratitude to the daruma doll that helped make your wishes come true.

If you mistreat a daruma doll or other good luck charm like the maneki neko, or don’t dispose of them properly because it costs too much or is too troublesome, then you may become cursed with bad luck, so please take it seriously!

Paint Your Daruma Doll and Pray for Good Luck!

While daruma dolls are widely used to pray for various things, many people still don’t understand how to use them properly or what they actually mean. They are even more likely to have no idea on what to do with the doll once its job is done. Just remember: either bring a used daruma doll to a shrine or dispose of it in the way explained above.

We hope that by using a daruma doll correctly, all your dreams will come true!

Related articles:

▶ What’s a Daruma Doll and How Did It Become a Symbol of Good Luck in Japan?

▶ 6 Japanese Lucky Charms: The Allure of the Daruma and Lucky Cat

▶ Japanese Crafts: The Complete Guide to Maneki Neko (Japanese Lucky Cats)

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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer's website for more information.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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