Loading... Please wait...

The Making of a Daruma Doll

Posted by

What is a daruma doll made out of?  Ask me and I'll say something about papier mache, which sounds so much better in its original French than the literal English translation of chewed paper! Beyond that I really had never seen anyone make one.  I was curious to know more about the process involved in making daruma, and I've also been wanting to get some Japanese language practice watching Japanese videos on youtube.

I came across a very well done short video produced by a Japanese company in Japanese. It's one of many interesting installments in a series they're chosen an English name for, 'The Making.'  The episodes are both entertaining and educational and show how various things are made. This episode features daruma dolls and is 14 minutes long.  It uses Japanese subtitles to illuminate the steps shown without any spoken words. The only audio is a pleasant soundtrack.  So it happens to be very accessible even if you speak no Japanese at all.  

The first 3 1/2 minutes of the video shows how to make a daruma doll by hand, and the video was shot at Shorinzan temple in Gunma Prefecture, also known as 'daruma-ji.' 

The temple was a natural location for this video because it's considered the birthplace of the Takasaki daruma doll. These are the most famed daruma dolls in Japan and the local city of Takasaki still is a major producer, accounting for about 80% of Japan's daruma dolls!

You'll notice that a key component of this handmade method is a daruma to use as a form on which to base the shape of the new doll.  So if you don't already have a daruma doll to use in this way, it's not practical for the beginner who wants to make their own daruma doll.  Still, it's quite interesting and shows quite clearly how daruma dolls have been made over the centuries, before more mechanized methods came into use.

at the 3 1/2 minute mark the focus shifts to more modern methods of mass production, and this takes up the bulk of the show.  Notice that the facial features are still painted by hand, even with the modern approach!  One of my favorites parts was watching the craftsman so deftly adding the characteristic facial hair to the dolls!

comments powered by Disqus

Sign up to our newsletter

Recent Updates