Daruma dolls are famous in Japan as good luck charms. At the beginning of every year, many Japanese return or burn their old Daruma dolls and get new ones. The famous Jindaiji temple in Chofu, Tokyo, conducts a large Daruma Doll Festival from March 3-4 where you can buy daruma dolls for 2016.
The Jindaiji Temple Daruma Doll Fair’s actual name in Japanese is ‘Jindaiji Yakuyoke Ganzan Jie Daishi Sai’. It started in the Edo period as a temple fair in commemoration of a famous Buddhist figure and teacher, Jie Daishi. Jindaiji Temple is the second oldest temple in Tokyo after Sensoji Temple and the fair is one of the largest in the city. Hundreds of street stalls selling daruma dolls are set up. The festival attracts thousands of worshipers and tourists to the temple.
During the fair, once you’ve bought your daruma doll, you can bring it to the ‘Ganzan Daishi (another name for Jie Daishi) Statue’ in the temple where you can wish for something, by marking the left eye of your Daruma with a ‘bonji’ script character. This character indicates that the wish has been made. One year later, when you come to return the old one and if your wish has been fulfilled, the right eye is marked with an another bonji character signifying the end of the wish. Daruma dolls are usually a red colored, human faced doll with big eyes. Other colors of daruma such as gold and green are also sold.
A traditional ritual called ‘Hyakumi Kuyo’ which includes a procession and offerings of tea and sweets for Ganzan Daishi takes place. Prayers and cedar-stick burning also take place. Food stalls are installed for you to savor different varieties of food while you do your daruma shopping. Jindaiji is famous for its soba dango, a dumpling made of buckwheat. Okonomiyaki and dessert shops are also found here.
This Daruma Doll Festival is one of the most attended fairs in Tokyo and is filled with merchants, students, worshipers, priests, and tourists. Visit the Jindaiji Temple, get your new daruma doll and let your wishes come true. You can also capture the majestic temple premises, decorations and busy streets with your camera and enjoy the spirit of the fair. The entire fair is filled with a touristic and spiritual aura.