What does a daruma doll do?
The daruma is a traditional Japanese ‘doll’, kinda. Some people call it a wishing doll. The name comes from Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Darumas are rounded, like Weebles, and often made with either wood or paper. Most of them are red, for luck. You can’t miss one if it’s in a room – it’s probably massive.
When you receive a daruma, you make your wish (a goal for the year) and fill in one of the eyes. This represents the start of your personal journey towards greatness. Place the half-done daruma somewhere really visible.
You then have to actually work towards your goal. So much for wishing. Nope, instead of magically making your dreams come true, the daruma stares you down – with one jet black eye – until you make it yourself. In that sense, it’s more of a motivational tool.
The other eye gets filled in if/when your wish comes true. Completion! Until you pick a new goal, buy another daruma, and do it again.
Designs you can tell apart with one eye shut
Daruma Club models are designed with recognisable (and bright!) Japanese patterns, icons, and anime themes. Way more shades than just red! Like yellow, blue, and white… Well, that’s all of the plain ones. The rest start getting into rainbow colours.
Colours other than red on a daruma can mean different things. White is for relationships and new beginnings. Blue means longevity and success. And yellow/gold is for ambition, money, and security. So you’d wish on different-coloured darumas depending on what you wanted. It’s kinda tempting to wish on all of them at once and hedge your bets.
The Daruma Club range is made by Tamashii Nations, a sub-brand of Bandai. They’ve developed a name for creating seriously popular Japanese collectibles. ‘Tamashii’ means ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and it’s said that they put spirit and soul into every product. Hey, it’s better than finding blood, sweat and tears on your daruma.
These mini daruma models already have both eyes filled in. Why burden a collectible figure with your hopes and dreams?
Another big difference is that all the figures have arms and legs. There’s no danger of them rolling off your shelf.
A colourful club that keeps on getting bigger
So far, Daruma Club’s made 4 ‘volumes’ of models, a pair of ‘Tamashii Nation 2016’ tamashii darumas, and a special selection. There are only 3 physical shops in Japan that sell them, and they’re all in Tokyo. If you want to own one, you’ll have to try another way.
The first volume included figures themed around famous cute and cool Japanese things. Peko-chan from the Fujiya Milky brand, Ultraman, and one inspired by the anime Creamy Mami. Later figures reference Cutie Honey, Taiko no Tatsujin, Mazinger Z, Capybara-san, Blackjack, and ebi senbei (prawn crackers).
The Japan-themed models include a sumo daruma, a ninja daruma, and a Mt. Fuji daruma from different volumes. The specific Japan Style daruma has a flowery kimono pattern.
If you’re into long-running anime, maybe you’ll wish for the black and gold One Piece figures. Sadly not solid good, but they look just as impressive. Those are part of the ‘special’ range, along with Godzilla and Mothra… and the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. Hey, that’s not Japanese!
And then… if the specials weren’t enough for you… then they get seriously weird. Okay, so this is the pop-kawaii sparkly rainbow vomit Kira Kira Daruma. Colourful and creepy is a great combo.
What’s up with the anime girl eyes? Can it see out of all of them? How do you deal with depth perception with eyes like that?
Make this your year of funky figures
No more wishing, hoping and dreaming of how to buy this kind of stuff from Japan. On DEJAPAN, you can shop and bid on Japanese online auctions in English. And you’ll find way more than just Daruma Club figures, when you take a look.