The origins of Daruma
Daruma are wish figurines from the city of Takasaki, in Gunma prefecture. Created by a monk for his flock in the 18th century, the Daruma encourages to believe in one’s dreams and achieve one’s objectives.
Hollow and round, Daruma have been modelled on Bodhidharma, the monk who founded Mahâyâna Buddhism, which later produced the Zen current. After spending 9 years sitting and meditating in a cave, Bodhidharma has lost the use of both arms and legs. Like him, the Daruma has neither arms nor legs, and you purchase it, it doesn’t have eyes either.
Made of papier-mâché, Daruma have a heavy base, which allows him to keep standing when someone pushes it aside. It is a symbol of stamina, on top of luck and protection. That’s why it is often given as a gift for birthdays, for New Year, or to people who undertake a new adventure.
The Daruma helps one keep going come what may, to keep in mind the ganbaru spirit: obstacles are part of life and we’re bound to stumble once in a while. What matters is to stand up again and keep going: "Nanakorobi yaoki" (a Japanese saying meaning "If you fall seven times, get back up eight times.")
How to use it
At first, a Daruma has no pupil. When you make a wish, you draw the Daruma’s left eye with black ink. Then you put it in your home, usually in a high spot. When your wish comes true, then you can draw the second pupil.
Daruma are usually sold in temples and when the wish doesn’t come true, you can send it back to the same temple for it to be burnt, a way to inform the kami (the gods) that you keep on trying to make your wish come true in another way.
Why choosing the Daruma?
The Daruma has been chosen as a symbol for the Japan Expo Awards prizes because it represents hope and stamina. A mangaka or an animator’s work is hard and fame difficult to achieve.
Daruma given out at the Japan Expo Awards ceremony can be seen as a lucky charm for the success of the winner.