A Japanese good-luck charm you can make yourself.

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Daruma-SanA Good-Luck Charm You Can Make Yourself
Do you have a lucky penny? Maybe you carry a rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover. All around the world, people believe special charms will bring them good fortune. In Japan, the most popular good-luck piece is an egg-shaped doll with a fierce face and blank eyes, called Daruma-san.

A special time to buy a Daruma-san is on New Year’s Day. In America, many people make New Year’s resolutions. In Japan, people bring their old Daruma-san to a temple or shrine. These old good-luck charms are burned in a big bonfire, and a new Daruma-san is acquired. That way, people believe they start the new year fresh with the best of luck.

To make a wish on a Daruma-san, you first give him the gift of sight by painting in one eye. Then you make your wish and wait. If the wish comes true, you reward your Daruma-san by painting in his other eye. With this second eye for a wish-come-true he is said to have “both eyes open,” which means that there has been success in some endeavor.

Daruma-san is not only a good-luck charm but also a symbol for trying hard and being brave. There is a popular saying about Daruma-san in Japan, “Seven downs and eight ups,” which means that each time Daruma-san is knocked down he gets right up and tries again.

Maybe Daruma-san won’t really bring good fortune, but as long as he reminds you to work hard to make your wishes come true, then that’s the best luck of all!

Make Your Own Daruma-San
A Daruma-san can be made out of almost anything round or egg shaped. This one is made with papier-mâché.

You will need:

  • newspaper

  • a round balloon

  • a few pieces of white paper

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup (or more) cold water

  • paints or markers (at least red and black)

  • a large bowl

  1. Cover your worktable with newspaper.

  2. Tear additional sheets of newspaper and the white paper into half-inch-wide strips.

  3. Mix the flour with cold water in the bowl until the consistency is creamy.

  4. Blow up the balloon until it is a bit smaller than you’d like your finished doll to be. Knot it, and tie a string around the knot.

  5. Dip strips of newspaper into the flour-and-water mixture. Slide them between your fingers to get rid of the extra paste. Wrap them around the balloon smoothly until it is completely covered except for a small area around the knot of the balloon. Cover the balloon with three or four layers of newspaper, and then do one final layer using the white strips of paper.

  6. If you want to make your Daruma-san’s nose stick out, shape some of the white paper covered with the flour mixture into a nose-like shape and put it where you’d like the nose to be. Cover with smooth white paper.

  7. Hang the balloon from the string so it can dry. When the outside feels almost dry, use a pin to pop the balloon so that the inside can dry, too. Drying may take several days.

  8. Draw your Daruma-san’s face with pencil and then use markers or paint to decorate it.

  9. Now you’re all ready to paint the first of Daruma-san’s eyes, make your New Year’s wish, and start working toward making that wish come true!