The Bushido Code Kanji Quiz-Test Your Knowledge!

How familiar are you with the kanji that represent the bushido code, the principles that dictated the samurai way of life? Take this quickie quiz and find out!

Learning about the bushido virtues by way of translations in your native language is a natural first step. This is as far as many folks choose to go.

With just a bit of concentrated effort, you can then memorize the Japanese name of each precept.

But don’t stop there!

You might well have already come across at least some of the kanji characters that stand for these precepts.

But if you’re not a fairly serious student of the Japanese language, you might gloss over these kanji, assuming that they’re beyond your reach if you’re more interested in bushido than in the language itself.

Don’t be bowed!

Learning to associate each kanji or pair of kanji with the corresponding samurai code virtue is a simple and straightforward and rewarding task.

Learning to actually write the kanji as well can be very rewarding of course, but that does take appreciably more effort. The good news is that it’s not at all necessary to go that far if you want to forge a relationship with the characters.

Being able to simply match the bushido kanji with their Japanese names can be supremely satisfying and engaging in its own right.

And that’s where this simple bushido code kanji quiz comes in.

I hope it makes the learning process even more productive by giving you a clear sense of where you are at this point in a fun and engaging way that makes it easy to measure your progress and to motivate yourself to keep it up!

The kanji shown here are based on hand written calligraphy by Hiro, a good friend of mine here in Kyoto who’s also an accomplished brush artist in the traditional style.

These works are also featured in my calligraphy shop gallery, where you can review the kanji, Japanese names and English translations of the eight virtues of bushido before you take the quiz.

Or………just wing it and dive into the quiz!!

Get a baseline idea of how much you’ve already absorbed already-you might surprise yourself. Then come back after a short session of focused review and give it another go.

A passing score is 75%(6 out of 8 questions correct). Each question includes the Japanese name of a precept as well as common English equivalents. Each question has just one correct answer.

You can change answers at any point before you finish the quiz. After you’re done, in addition to viewing your score at the top, you can scroll down to see what you got right and what you missed, with those answers marked green and red respectively. When you miss a question, the correct answer will also be shown in green, for future reference.

I join Hiro in hoping that his art and the kanji characters and principles expressed in it will bring the spirit of bushido and Japan closer to you.

And we thank you for sharing our humble bushido code kanji quiz with friends who follow the way of the warrior.

Let The Quiz Begin!

Originally posted 2020-04-05 05:15:50.

The Making of a Daruma Doll

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.

How to Make a Daruma Doll: An Inspiring Video Showing Traditional Methods

In researching about how to make a daruma doll, 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.

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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! The red daruma doll below is an example of the work of Taksaki City’s craftsmen.

You’ll notice that a key component of the handmade method in this video 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!

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

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Originally posted 2017-03-16 15:01:50.

Daruma Dolls: Kanji and Color Meanings

Just as there’s no longer just one flavor of pasta sauce on supermarket shelves(Prego makes over 40 now!) daruma dolls also come in a variety of colors these days, to suit different tastes.

Here’s a rundown of the meaning behind many of the most common daruma doll colors, and an explanation of what those kanji characters so often seen on daruma dolls mean as well!

Red Daruma Dolls

Red is traditionally the color most associated with these dolls, and I’d bet that it’s still the most popular one for dolls sold in Japan.  Red is an auspicious color that some believe has the power to ward off evil spirits, disaster and illness.

The traditional red daruma is said to be modeled on Buddhist priest robes. Shinto too seems to venerate this color, as torii shrine gates through which parishioners pass are either red or vermilion.

When I was reading in Japanese on the history of daruma dolls, I learned that their origin is in China. This comes as no surprise, as so many aspects of Japanese culture have their roots in the Middle Kingdom.

But I was particularly interested to find that when they were introduced to Japan and for some time thereafter they were yellow, as they were in China! This certainly sounds plausible, as it’s natural for adaptations to be made when something is introduced to a new culture, and it could be said that Japan has a particular flair for that.

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Red is a celebratory color in Japan and carries with it numerous positive connotations. When people turn 60 in Japan, they celebrate their ‘kanreki’ by donning a jaunty red vest and cap to mark the occasion, which is seen as a sort of rebirth and return to the beginning of the life cycle. Red also has strong associations with victory, which is why political candidates choose red daruma when they’re running for office.

I’m partial to red daruma, so I bought the small one pictured below the other day when we went to a Kyoto temple known for daruma dolls that’s called Daruma-dera. It has a hole drilled in the bottom with an ‘omikuji’ fortune paper inside, and it’s sitting on my table watching me at this moment!

daruma doll

Red daruma dolls invite good fortune in the most general sense, so if you like red and want to go the traditional route, it’s always a good choice.  Mine has eyes that are already painted and a splash of festive hues in a floral pattern that gives it a cheery look.

If you don’t live in Japan and are thinking about getting a daruma doll for yourself or as a gift, a good place to start to get an idea of what’s available is amazon.  Click here to go there and see their selection.

Other Colors and Their Meanings

If you gravitate toward another color or have a specific goal in mind and want to put a finer point on things, there are daruma dolls of various hues that will be happy to call your house their home.

Sometimes they’re sold in sets of five different colors, each with a specific power. Such sets are called goshiki daruma. The word goshiki literally means ‘five colors.’

With the recent proliferation of colors though, some online sellers have created sets of ten dolls, each with it’s own distinct look and presumed powers.

This sort of set can be put to especially good use if you’re looking for small Japanese gifts for a good number of friends who are into Japanese culture or who would simply appreciate something unique and fun.

You can find the set of ten petite mini daruma dolls below on amazon by clicking on the photo.

Some popular daruma doll colors and their meanings are:

Purple-health and longevity. Purple is a regal color that is associated with the imperial line, and it’s connected with such qualities as character and integrity.

Yellow-as with gold, there’s an expected association with financial good fortune as well as a more general connection to good fortune.

Gold-wealth and prosperity. The obvious choice of color when career advancement and economic gain are in sharp focus. It’s a natural for a business environment, but it’s also a good fit at home, where a gold daruma doll can add brightness to your decor and motivate you to be active and to harness the energy to do what needs doing.

White-the color of choice for students studying for rigorous school entrance exams that are such a common and stressful rite of passage in Japan.  More generally white is associated with goal attainment.  White also stands for purity, not only in terms of experience, but also in purpose.  So a simple white daruma, perhaps with less gold accents than the one pictured, would be especially apropos for someone who’s practicing a martial art such as karate, judo or kendo.  A white daruma can inspire those who are interested in bushido, the code of honor of the samurai, for similar reasons. White emphasizes the the way, the path, rather than the result in this context. So, while white daruma dolls and goal setting go together, they also remind us to pay attention to the process.


Black-success in business ventures. A good color for entrepreneurs. Just like in English(in the black), the Japanese language refers to black for success in business(kuro ji), and so a black daruma doll will invite such business fortune.  And because it also represents power and strength, black can also promote stability in terms of a business’s money flow. So a black daruma would be a great gift for someone who’s starting a new business venture.


Blue-success in school and the development of the intellect. Blue is also a calming color and so a blue daruma doll can be a good addition to your home or work space.  It can promote a sense of relaxation and serenity.

Silver-promotes self-awareness and self-development. Expectant mothers also sometimes choose silver because it’s said that it makes an easy delivery more likely.


Green-physical health. Also the development of talent and skill. This ties into the connection between the color green and plants budding, and calls to mind the English expression ‘budding talent.’

Orange-couples who want children choose this color and it also offers protection against disaster.

Peach-this is a color of love and attracts romance and passion.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as I’ve seen mention of different shades of blue and green, etc.! The furoshiki wrapping cloth below features just a few of the colors that daruma dolls now sport.

red and gold purple daruma doll

Daruma Doll Kanji Meaning

The three daruma dolls depicted on the fabric above happen to not only have different colors, but also different kanji characters written on them. The red one has the most often seen character, pronounced ‘fuku.’  This refers to good fortune in a general sense, which is why it’s so common.

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The yellow daruma doll specifically attracts money, and so it includes the character for money, ‘okane.’ The purple doll has a character read as ‘kotobuki’ which is often used for weddings and other special occasions, as it carries the meaning of long life and longevity as well as congratulations.

The two characters in the middle of the rising sun in back of the dolls are pronounced ‘kai-un’ which is another way to convey a message of good fortune.  These two characters in fact are sometimes written on daruma dolls as well.

What color is your daruma doll?

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Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

Originally posted 2017-03-15 15:18:51.