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Shinmei-ichi Festival: Home of the Largest Daruma Doll in Japan?

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I've been writing a lot about daruma dolls this week and found a column from 2004 on the Japan Times website by Amy Chavez, who chronicled her quest to buy a daruma doll at the Shinmei-ichi Daruma Doll Festival in Mihara with her usual flair.

I hadn't heard of the festival before, and it sounds like a good excuse to get to know that beautiful area on the Seto Inland Sea in Hiroshima Prefecture better. As the festival has just come and gone for another year though, I'll have to wait a while before the chance comes around again!

I also learned that Shinmei is another name for the sun goddess Amaterasu, a major deity in the shinto faith.

If you happen to be in Japan some future February, it seems like a fun way to sample local cuisine as well as see lots of daruma dolls!  It's been held for over 400 years, so it seems safe to assume that it will continue to be a festive February option.  

Hundreds of street stalls offer a variety of temptations.  And then there are the daruma dolls. A huge daruma doll is on display and proudly bears the kanji characters 日本一(Nihon Ichi) to signify that it's the largest in Japan. Check the short video below to see what it you can expect if you go.  At 30 seconds into the clip you'll see a row of daruma dolls lined up for sale according to size and the camera pans from big to small. In case you're curious, here are the prices for the largest three:  15 was going for ¥20000($175USD), 14 for ¥15000($132USD) and 13 for ¥10000($89). I don't know if I'd be willing to part with mine after a year at those prices!

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