Monday, August 15, 2022

Daruma-san ga koronda

The Daruma doll is a type of okiagari-koboshi which is said to have originated from Shorinzan Daruma-ji in Gunma prefecture in the mid-18th century. They are normally seen as symbols of good luck and perseverance, but are sometimes used as monsters in art and fiction.

Obake-daruma (お化け達磨) are not particularly common, and should not be confused with mokugyo daruma (木魚達磨), which are something different.

Mokugyo daruma

The closest thing I could find to an obake-daruma from before the Showa era is from a woodblock print by Kawanabe Kyōsai, depicting a daruma doll coming to life and frightening some artisans.

Watonai, Hariko no Meijin
(和藤内 はりこの名人)

The video game Yomawari, features an obake-daruma in a sub-event where the character plays a life-or-death game of Daruma-san ga koronda.

Daruma and Kotomo

Another obake-daruma appears in the doujin game Oniga's Journey (鬼我の旅) by Syarekoube (しゃれこうべ)

Perhaps the most well known obake-daruma is Daruma (だるま) from GeGeGe no Kitarō.

This yokai-daruma has the ability to swallow victims and transform them into daruma dolls.

It can also release swarms of mini-daruma (子だるま) that represent its internal organs to attack enemies.

A reference to ireko-daruma (入れ子だるま)?

It also has cold and fire powers which are probably derived from wordplay as opposed to anything folkloric.

Yuki-daruma ("Snowman" in Japanese)


To represent obake-daruma for gaming, there are various daruma charms, phone straps, or keychain fobs available, as well as inexpensive puzzle erasers.

For smaller daruma, there are various gotochi (ご当地, ゴトウチ) from Gunma (群馬) prefecture. Gotochi are local souveniers that feature famous regional specialty items. The term was originally used for special postcards issued by prefectural post offices, but now includes various phone straps, keychain fobs, or other goods (often in collaboration with various anime series or character brands).

The following image shows an eraser made by Iwako (red), a charm by Yujin (yellow), and three smaller gotochi daruma.

The gotochi were cut up to make standalone daruma, but the figures need smoothing, patching, and painting to look good from all angles.

No comments: