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Daruma: Symbol of Perseverance and Good Luck

Around the New Year, shrine and temple stalls are often are often filled with roly-poly daruma dolls. Depicting the founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma, who lost the use of his limbs after years of motionless meditation, the figure symbolized persistence and the attainment of a goal. When new, the eyes are blank. Purchasers customarily paint in one large black pupil when embarking on a cherished project, and fill in the other only if success is granted.

As well as being a time of beginnings and new resolve, the New Year represents the passing away of old cares and resolutions. For this reason many people return their old dolls to shrines and temples at the New Year, taking the opportunity to purchase a new one at the same time. The illustrated daruma, some with the second eye still unpainted, are ones that were left for ritual burning at Hanazono Shrine in Tokyo.