Daruma in Nagoya

daruma does japan

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By Patricia Belyea

JAPAN  On the first night of our Japan trek, the Mima family gave me a Daruma doll from Blue & White in Tokyo. Yoko and Kayako Mima playfully told me that the Daruma reminded them of my husband, Michael. We all laughed at that.

Daruma, although constantly scowling, happily joined Victoria and I on our adventures. A bit of a narcistic dude, he wanted his picture taken nonstop! So here’s Daruma’s photo album of his top trip memories.

At the Kawasaki Daishi, a huge Buddhist temple just south of Tokyo, there’s a Daruma Market. Our little Daruma met hundreds of his buddies there.

Darura kicked back in a bohemian-style setting while visiting the home of chusen-dyeing artist Sanae Naito for a traditional multi-course dinner. (Being invited into a family home rarely happens to foreigners in Japan.)

On a back street of Kamakura, Daruma found Koke-shka—a shop that specializes in Japanese kokeshi dolls and Russian matryoshka dolls. Here Daruma tried to blend in with his wooden bros.

Nagoya Castle or Meijō burned down in World War II air raids. Daruma visited this magnificent re-built cultural site with excellent interpretative exhibits on every floor and a terrific view of Nagoya from its observation deck.

Daruma turned a corner in the popular Osu Shopping District of Nagoya and discovered this colorful Shinto shrine. Watch out for those fierce foxes, Daruma!

More danger! Hanging out in the Cat Cafe Mocha in Nagoya scared Daruma. These cats didn’t want to play with him. They wanted to tear him apart!

Daruma was entranced by the shibori artist who was tying knots at lightning speed in the Arimatsu Tie-dyeing Museum in historic Arimatsu.

Daruma looked a little lost in the Bamboo Forest of Arashimaya but he was just basking in the green aura of the dense, towering groves.

Ahhhhh—serenity in a busy tourist area. Daruma caught his breath and meditated for a moment in the moss garden of humble Gio-ji Temple, an out-of-the-way sight in Arashiyama.

Made of folk fabrics himself, Daruma reveled in the Kyoto home of Kawai Kanjiro—a legendary potter and one of the founders of mengei, the Japanese folk art movement that began in the mid-1920s.

This view of the forested sandbar at Amanohashidate—nicknamed Bridge to Heaven—is considered one of the best natural sights in Japan. On a gray stormy day, Daruma just frowned as the rain pelted down on him at the cable car lookout.

Daruma made it to the Todai-ji Temple complex in Nara where he saw the world’s largest gilded Buddha in the Great Buddha Hall. His timing was perfect—he stopped by on April 8, the Buddha’s birthday!

Daruma started one day with a delicious latte at Blue Bottle Coffee in Kyoto, located a few steps away from the Nanzen-ji Temple. Hey Daruma, that coffee company is from the Bay Area in California, not Japan!

Ahh, that’s better. Here Daruma enjoyed a matcha latte. Matcha is the finely ground green tea used in the spiritually refreshing tea ceremony. A much more Japanese choice!

Daruma’s top pick for sightseeing in Kyoto was Nijo Castle, home of the first shogun of the Edo Period. Daruma sat under the ornate Karamon Gate before he toured the castle's main attraction, the Ninomaru Palace.

Daruma loved the amazing Kimono Roboto exhibit at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. One of the hostesses there loved Daruma. Love flowed everywhere!

Here Daruma awaited his flight to America at the Kansai Airport. He acquired an EB-1 work visa for his exceptional knowledge about Japanese culture and will be employed at the Okan Arts Seattle Shop.

Typically a Daruma is a papier-mache doll, modeled after the founder of Zen Buddhism. When sold, the eyes of Daruma are often blank. The recipient fills in one eye upon setting a goal, and then fills in the other eye when the goal has been fulfilled.

Like roly-poly dolls, the bottoms are weighted so Darumas pop up when pushed over. The phrase “Nanakorobi Yaoki” often accompanies Darumas. This translates to “seven times down, eight times up” to show a great amount of determination. “Both eyes open,” another Japanese saying, refers to attaining enlightenment.

ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.