Hime (princess) Daruma dolls, a traditional handicraft of Takeda, Oita Prefecture, are recently proving so popular that you have to wait as long as three years after placing orders to get them.
The red, round dolls with a gentle smile, regarded as a talisman of good luck, are said to bring family happiness and thriving business.
The dolls are produced by a Takeda woman and her daughter-in-law, the only family that inherits the tradition handed down since the Edo Period. Because the dolls are made completely by hand, it takes them roughly a week to make one daruma.
Meiko Goto, 80, of a rice farming family produces the dolls in her atelier along with her son’s wife Kumiko, 59. They paste pieces of “washi” traditional paper onto a wooden mold to create the daruma figure and paint it to look like a lady of a samurai family in the Edo Period. Meiko draws the eyes and eyebrows, while Kumiko draws the lips. The dolls come in eight different sizes, ranging from 8 to 50 centimeters in height.
Daruma making thrived in Takeda before World War II, but declined after the war. Meiko revived the broken tradition in 1952 and has been engaged in making the dolls for more than 60 years.
“Each and every one of them is made with a sense of love and affection,” she says, carefully using a paint brush. “It is the same as raising children.”