A Travellerspoint blog

Takasaki’s Good Fortune

Springtime in Japan

sunny 22 °C

No matter how many times we ride the Japanese bullet trains, (the Shinkansen), we can’t fail to be enthralled. One minute we’re hurtling through the urban jungle of Tokyo’s sprawling suburbs and the next we’re a hundred miles away in the peaceful countryside of Gunma Prefecture near Takasaki to visit the Daruma Doll factory…
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Nearly 2 million smaller versions of these papier-mâché dolls are made every year by the farmers and their families in a tradition that began in 1781 because of a 6 year famine. To make money in the lean years the local Zen Buddhist priest taught his flock to make and sell these good luck charms called Fuku-Daruma and the practice caught on. Many people leave Darumas at the doors of the Sharinzan Darumaji temple to bring themselves good fortune…
Daruma_at_Temple.jpg
This Shorinzan Temple was founded here in 1654 by a Chinese priest named Shinetsu...
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In a clever, though devilishly devious, marketing ploy it is said by the Daruma makers that if your doll brings you good fortune you should burn it and buy a bigger one. But if it doesn’t work should you buy another one. These are unpainted Darumas drying in the warm sunshine outside the factory…
Drying_daruma.jpg
We didn’t buy a Daruma, but our lucky weather fairy came through as usual. It is not supposed to be 22 degrees for another few weeks in this part of Japan, but the cherry blossoms are already bursting with joy. Here’s just a teaser… there will be more - many more…
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But we can’t dither. We have a lot of miles to cover - albeit at 350 kilometres an hour on the Shinkansen. Next stop – Niigata on the coast of the Sea of Japan. We are hoping it will stay warm, but the scorching days of the Australian Outback already seem a long way off.

Posted by Hawkson 02:22 Archived in Japan

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Here I am the first person to respond on Japan. It is 4:28 am and the moon is shining in my window. In my back yard there is a huge old tree, perhaps 50 years old and it is all in a white blossom. I love the spring on Gabriola...love

by Jean McLaren

So pleased for you that you are experiencing the glory of Spring and blossoms as you had wanted. It is so beautiful right now in Vancouver. One of the best times of the year. Thanks for such lovely photos and history.

by Sue Fitzwilson

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