The Daruma is based on an ancient Buddhist monk known as Bodhidharma who, after nine years sitting meditating in a cave, lost the use of his arms and legs. The doll possesses a weighted bottom and rounded shape so it will regain its balance after being tipped over — representing persistence of spirit and recovery from misfortune. Sold at temple festivals and fairs, such dolls are typically made of paper-mache, painted red, and depict Bodhidharma seated in mediation.
A symbol of good luck and protection in Japan, a Daruma doll is traditionally given to someone starting a new venture, celebrating a birthday or at the beginning of a New Year.
At the start of an endeavor, one eye is painted and a wish is made for good luck. The other eye is painted when the goal is reached. Most are kept for only 1 year when they are collected and burned and blessed by a priest in a ritual called “daruma kuyo”.