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How to Make a Simple Japanese Daruma

Thanks to the pandemic, we keep postponing our trip back to Japan for 2 years now. I have a nephew and a niece that I have never met and I am really dying to see my family. I also want to stuff myself with my mum's cooking, go shopping with my sister, visit the countryside for onsen (hot spring) and take my daughter and husband to all the cool places in Tokyo. But I know that there are others in the same situation and that these restrictions will not last forever (I hope!).

Because spending the New Year in Japan isn't really an option for us right now I decided to bring the Japanese New Year celebration to our Dutch home. It's funny because I never used to care much about celebrating Christmas or New Year. Before having a child, my husband and I never owned a Christmas tree, and we would typically spend the holiday period abroad away from all the craziness. But having kids changes that. You want to give your child as much experience as possible. I also want her to be familiar with Japanese culture as that is also part of her cultural identity. So since she's born, I try to incorporate Japanese celebrations to our lives - 3 March Girls' Festival, 5 May Children's Day, and now New Year.

One of the Japanese New Year traditions that we wanted to try out as a family is to set specific goals we want to achieve in 2022. We would each have a new year's resolution, share it with each other and remind/support each other to achieve it. And to make it fun and easier for our daughter to grasp the concept of goal setting, we wanted to use a Japanese Daruma. What's Daruma? It's a traditional Japanese doll that is modeled after a monk who found Zen Buddhism. The Daruma dolls represent good luck and future fortune. You typically buy Daruma at a temple and upon purchase, you will find that its eyes are missing. And there is a good reason for that. You are meant to paint in your Daruma's left eye while setting a goal/wish. For instance, a lot of businesses will buy a Daruma and wish for a profitable year. And once your goal is achieved, or once your wish comes true, you fill in the other eye. Unfortunately. there is an expiry date to Daruma and it's 1 year. You're meant to bring the Daruma to a temple (if possible, the same temple where you initially bought the Daruma) and have it burned regardless of whether the goal/wish was realised. Since we can't actually buy one in the Netherlands, we decided to make one ourselves.


  • Newspaper

  • Painter's Tape

Option A:

  • Tissue Paper or Serviette (Napkin)

  • Glue Mixture (1 : 2, Craft Glue : Water)

  • Paper

Option B:

  • White Paint

  • Acrylic Paint

  • Posca or Paint Markers

How to Make a Daruma

Step 1 - Roll newspaper into a daruma shape. A Daruma has a round oval body.

Step 2 - Fix the Daruma body with painter's tape.

Option A

Step 3 - Using the glue mixture, cover the daruma with a tissue paper or napkin of your choice. If you are using a napkin/serviette, separate the layers as napkins usually consist of top and bottom layers. Let it dry.

Step 4 - Cut out paper to make the daruma face. Remember to leave the eyes blank.

Option B

Step 3 - Paint the daruma white. You can skip this step but the colour will look more defined if you do.

Step 4 - Paint the daruma with acrylic paint or paint markers. Remember to leave the eyes blank.

Now think of a new year resolution for 2022. What do you want to achieve in 2022? And fill in the Daruma's left eye (right facing you). My daughter wants to be able to write all 46 basic Hiragana Japanese letters by the end of 2022 and we think she'll actually do it. We told her to draw in Daruma's left eye and when she's able to write the Hiragana letters, she can draw in the right eye. I think she grasped the concept really well and it's such a fun activity to do as a family, sharing our hopes and goals for the new year. Interested? Give it a go, it's nice to have a cute object in the house that reminds you to keep focus and achieve your goal.

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