About 200 years ago, there lived a farmer named Tomogoro Yamagata in Toyooka Village of Takasaki. He and his family made Daruma dolls in winter when they were not busy on the farm. 80 years later, many farmers of the village and the surrounding areas started to make Daruma dolls. As they became able to produce Daruma dolls in large quantity, they began to sell them at the New Year’ s festivals at Shorinzan Daruma-ji Temple.
Covered in a red priestly robe from head to toe, with big eyes wide open and lips tightly shut, Daruma dolls have a sturdy body. Their thick eyebrows are drawn in the shape of a crane and the mustache in the shape of a turtle. It is believed that cranes live 1 000 years and turtles 10 000 years. On its cheek and plump stomach, Fuku or lucky/good fortune in a kanji character, together with creases of priestly robe are painted in gold. On both ends of its face, the owner’ s wishes are written also in gold letters.
Every creator of Daruma doll makes a wish for happiness and well-being of its future owner throughout the coming year. Creators make Daruma dolls believing that each and every one they make is able to eliminate the source of conflicts of many kinds by keeping families in the world safe and secure.
M. Sumikazu Nakata, master craftsman, president of Daimonya Co.Ltd. and chairman at Gunma Daruma Doll Manufacturing Cooperative Union, protects this tradition and continues to present it to the world.