I wrote before about Daruma dolls, the good luck charms representing, in a very stylized form, Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen Buddhism.
The legend says that Bodhidharma traveled to China, where he went to a Shaolin Monastery, but he wasn’t allowed to enter. Then he went to a nearby cave where he started meditating, but during meditation he fell asleep and, furious about his weakness, he cut off his eyelids (that’s why the Daruma dolls are represented with large eyes, without eyelids). Also, it is said that after 9 years of continuous meditation, his arms and legs atrophied (and that’s why the Daruma dolls are represented without members) and that he died at the age of 150 years. Known as the Blue-Eyed Barbarian, its nationality is unknown (it is said that he was from Persia or India), but the Daruma dolls are representing him with facial hair, drawn in the shape of a turtle (symbol of longevity) and with eyebrows in the shape of a crane (also an important symbol of longevity).
Travel tip: As I wrote, the first Daruma doll was made at the Shorinzan Daruma Temple in Takasaki, Gunma, where right in front of the temple you can admire a large collection of Daruma dolls.
However, the real treasure of the temple is located in a museum, in a simple building towards the left side of the courtyard.
As you can see from this photo, the museum includes an amazing collection of Daruma dolls, in hundreds of shapes, sizes, colors and materials, ranging from full statues representing Boddhidarma to paper lanterns or even kites…
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