The Lucky Daruma
The Daruma is Takasaki’s famous symbol of good fortune, easily recognized by its bold facial features of cranes for eyebrows and turtles for a beard. Said to have originated more than 200 years ago during the Edo Period, Takasaki is now proudly one of the biggest producers of Daruma in Japan. Takasaki is traditionally an area where many households raise silkworms. For such households, the Daruma is especially auspicious because of its ability to return to an upright position when pushed over thanks to a weight in its base. The Japanese proverb “nana-korobi ya-oki” literally means if you fall over seven times, get up eight, with its message being to keep striving for your goals without giving up. Silkworm-raising households think of the Daruma as a precious figure to be worshipped because of this proverb, since the “oki” word in the proverb sounds similar to a word they use to describe the silkworm shedding its skin. The Daruma’s round shape is like that of a silk cocoon, and for these reasons silk farmers believe the good luck brought by the Daruma will help them to raise healthy silkworms.
Daruma used for good luck by politicians, who paint the doll’s left eye before and the right eye after being elected, are almost all produced in Takasaki.
The strong winds and dry climate of Takasaki’s winter are ideal for the production of Daruma. Without doubt the Daruma is a work of art born out of Takasaki’s natural environment as well as from the great skills of the local craftsmen.