Showing posts with label bodhidharma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bodhidharma. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Introducing Daruma


Daruma is the Japanese name for Bodhidharma, a legendary figure who is credited with transmitting Zen teachings from either India or Central Asia to China. In Japan he is nowadays most commoly associated with the Daruma Doll, a small figure one uses in making wishes. He has no arms or legs as they "fell off" after years of sedentary meditation.

Small dolls are the form of Daruma one most encounters in Japan. The top photo however is I believe a wooden "fish drum". The second photo is a painting of Daruma. These are found usually at Zen temples.

In Matsuyama I found this small Buddhist "chapel" in the shape of Daruma. The next photo is also from a Zen temple.

I'm sure there is a story behind the very long eyebrows and facial hair of this large Daruma doll found near Arashiyama.

Buy dokudami tea from Japan

Friday, September 12, 2014



After leaving Kiyomizudera I headed for Unjuji, what I believed to be the next temple on the Izumo Kannon Pilgrimage. When I studied the route and guide I saw a temple marked at the approximate location of Unjuji, and as Unjuji was a pretty big temple and on the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage I didn't read closely enough. Temple 22 is actually a small temple about 600 meters away, so technically I have not yet finished the pilgrimage until I go back and visit the proper temple 22.

When I've been to Unjuji before I have seen pilgrims there, as can be attested by the photo above of the Kannon-do.

There are a lot of small statues scattered around the grounds, and a very fine gate. The temple was founded in 1322 and belongs to the Rinzai Zen sect.

The most interesting thing at the temple though is a bronze bell that is somewhere between 1000 to 1300 years old. Its a Korean bell, more specifically from Silla, the country that unified the Korean Peninsula in the late 7th Century. During the "colonial" period of Japanese rule over Korea in the first half of the 20th Century much was looted from there, and Korean bells were one of the objects apparently prized. Also, of course, much was looted from Korea by Hideyoshis armies in the 16th Century. Why the bell, and others like it throughout Japan, have not been returned is a mystery to me. Some historians believe this particular bell is one of the oldest of its style in existence.

There is a fascinating article here that discusses the meaning of Korean Bells, and the Unjuju Bell, in relation to a pre-Buddhist "Goddess" religion of East Asia. The author is also pretty scathing in her criticism of how Japan portrays Korean history.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Not Jabba the Hut


I am almost certain that this is not a statues of Jabba The Hut, though the resemblance is uncanny. I am almost certain that it is a statue of Daruma, the Japanese name given to the Bodhidharma, known as the founder of Zen.


Bodhidharma is believed to have been an Indian monk who took new Buddhist teaching to China where it became known as Ch'an. When Japan appropriated Ch'an they called it Zen.

Daruma dolls are found all over Japan. They have no arms or legs as the Bodhidarma spent so many years in ascetic meditation that his limbs dropped off through lack of use.


Daruma dolls are usually sold without eyes. They are used to help achieve your goals. After purchasing one a single eye is painted in as you set your self a goal. When you achieve your goal you paint in the second eye.


Though Daruma is technically a buddhist symbol, most of the photos on this page were taken in shrines.