PICA Things We Love

In the Land of Daruma (the thing we love)

Thoughts, Japanese CultureAlyonaComment
Notice how the left eye is fainter. It's because it took us a few years to colour-in the second eye.

Notice how the left eye is fainter. It's because it took us a few years to colour-in the second eye.

Today I want to share with you our love for Daruma (達磨).

Perhaps you browsed our shop pages and by now noticed that despite us carrying a wide variety of Japanese themed illustration designs, one is undeniably dominant in our current collection. Daruma doll.

Was that on purpose? Not really. It just happened like that. To be perfectly honest, we always had a soft spot for Daruma. It is angry and cute. It brings luck and holds onto your dreams for you. It is a constant reminder of better things to come and to never stop trying. If you think about it, it would be a perfect choice for our mascot. Unofficially, it actually is.

If you have no idea what Daruma is or does, let me catch you up to speed. Daruma is a traditional Japanese doll, a representation of Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. Today it is often found sold in small shops around Japan specializing in charms and other items that one uses to attract luck and fortune. Daruma, however, is no lucky charm. It is an embodiment of a wish or a goal that one values most and sets out to work hard at to achieve. Your wish is sealed by the Daruma when you colour in the first eye. And if you succeed and it comes true, you celebrate by colouring-in the second eye. Make sure to keep Daruma around after that for good luck and as a happy reminder of how far you’ve come.

Does it work? Depends on the wish I guess. For us, it certainly did. We got our first Daruma on our first trip to Japan in ‘07. Back then we were students, visiting the island that we later would call home. We were on cloud nine, and, as one would expect, the trip was amazing. We explored the majestic Tokyo, marveled at its colours, quirks, beauty and culture. By the end of the trip we were certain that we needed to come back to stay. The wish we sealed in our Daruma was just that. Come back to Japan - not as tourists, but as residents. It took four years of determination and hard work. We studied Japanese. Studied the culture. And saved up money. By 2011 our wish came true. We were on the plane, destination - our new home.

It was an exciting time. We’ll never forget how awesome it was. The things we learned. And the amazing friends we made. We still have the Daruma. It now has two eyes. It predominantly resides on the shelf where we can see it every day. It is a reminder of all the hard work we put into our wish for it to come true.

As I said, it is not as much of a good luck charm as it is your personal cheerleader. So go forth, get one and wish wisely. We certainly didn’t stop either. We now have two new additions. They might be small, but they are mighty cute, and as far as we think, the force is with them.