Daruma Doll

The Ultimate Goal Doll

Daruma DollThe Japanese daruma doll is quite strange looking. The doll is round and does not have any legs or arms. The doll has a mustache and a beard.

The eyes consist of only blank round circles. The daruma doll is very auspicious!

These Japanese dolls are a symbol of Bodhidharma. He is considered the founder of Zen Buddhism in China.

Goal Doll – Wish Doll

The idea is that when you receive or purchase a new doll need to make a wish or set a goal. The wish or goal must be measurable and specific. A vague wish will do no good.

Next you need some black ink. Concentrate on your wish or goal and fill in the right eye using the black ink.

Now place the doll on a high self where you will see it often. Every time you look at the doll, you need to remind yourself of your wish or goal.

When your wish comes true or you have reached your goal, you fill in the left eye with black ink. Many people will write their goal or wish on the back side of the doll when the goal is reached.

Give thanks and show gratitude.

Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up

The daruma doll is made of paper mache. It is hollow and round-shaped. The doll is weighted at the bottom. It is important that if the doll is tilted over it will always return to an upright position.

The Japanese word for this is “okiagari”. “Oki” means get up and “agari” means arise.

The daruma doll is therefore extra symbolic for the never giving up on your dreams. It symbolizes the ability to overcome any difficulty and recovering from any hardships you may encounter on your mission to reach your goal. 

The Japanese phrase “Nanakorobi” has a strong connection with the daruma doll. Nanakorobi means “Seven times down, eight times up”.

Colors of the Daruma Doll

The tradition color of the daruma doll is red. Red is the color of victory and success. This is the most common color. Red daruma dolls are the ultimate good luck dolls. More colors have shown up lately. The meaning of the colors may vary in different areas.

Purple dolls may be used if the goal is related to health issues and longevity. It is also often preferred if the goal is in a sports category. Yellow dolls may often be used if the wish is aimed at protection or security of any kind.

White daruma dolls are all about harmony and love. White dolls are great for marriages and a harmonious family life.

Gold dolls obviously are associated with wealth and prosperity. Anyone who has a specific money gold may choose a gold daruma doll. Black daruma dolls seem strange and work different from the traditional goal setting dolls.

Black is for protection from bad things happening. An example would be to be safe in traffic for the following year.

One Year Time Limit

Traditionally the magic powers of the daruma doll will last for one year. If the wish did not come true within the year, the doll may be taken to the temple for burning.

The burning of the daruma doll is a purification process to set the kami free. The kami is the spirit within the daruma.

This absolutely does not indicate a failure or that the owner of the doll has abandoned their wish.

It is rather a renewal of the goal or wish, making sure the wish will be preserved in the next year to come.

The burning of the daruma dolls is a special ceremony performed by the monks in Japan. It is held once a year right after New Year.

A new doll is purchased. The process of filling in one eye while making a wish is repeated.

Bodhidharma Legends

Bodhidharma lived during the 5th century CE. Most of the stories about this monk are considered legends.

It is told he traveled from Jambudvipa through many countries before reaching China. After having no success in South China, he traveled to North China.

He arrived at Shaolin Monastery. After being denied residence at the monastery, he settled in a nearby cave.

Bodhidharma spent the next nine years meditating and while starring at the wall of the cave.  He did not speak the entire time.

The act of sitting in the same position for so many years caused his legs to wither away. That is the reason the daruma dolls have no legs. During the seventh year of his meditation he supposedly fell asleep. This made him furious and he cut off his eyelids to make sure that would not happen again.

According to legend a green tea plant grew from the ground where the eyelid fell. Tea has since then helped monks stay awake for longer periods of time. Some legends tell a story of a student who cut off his arms to prove to Bodhidharma that he was completely devoted to him.


Takasaki in Japan is considered the hometown of the daruma dolls.

Every January there is a huge celebration of the daruma doll at the Shorinzan Daruma Temple. Several hundred thousand people attend this festival every year.

Read about the Japanese Lucky Cat

Read about the Japanese Lucky Frog