Daruma dolls are paper mache Japanese dolls that represent perseverance, patience, protection, prosperity, achievement, and good luck in the New Year. In this video from the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the dolls are molded, and then painted with traditional symbols, colors, and decorations.
Daruma dolls usually begin with empty white eyes. The first eye is drawn in by someone as they make a wish or set a goal. The second eye is drawn in when that wish is fulfilled or the goal is attained. Others, like the Matsukawa Daruma, are totems to wish for health and peace. “Matsukawa Daruma is produced so it can watch and protect family with its big eyes.”
The dolls are most popular in the New Year, when locals and tourists alike flock to Takasaki, the city where 80% of Japan’s Daruma dolls are crafted. To participate in the 400-year-old tradition, you can get Daruma dolls on Amazon or from shops in your local Japantown… or make one yourself with paper mache or with origami: