February 25, 2010

Bishamonten Daruma Festival

This Sunday, February 21, 2010 was the annual Bishamonten Daruma Festival in the Yoshiwara neighborhood of Fuji City. I'm not sure if it's held on this day every year. Possibly it's always on the third Sunday in February.

Just take the JR train to Yoshiwara Station and, after you get off, follow the masses of people. You can eat any manner of food on sticks including choco-bananas and candied grapes. There are also yummy grilled festival favorites like okonomiyake, yakitori and yakisoba.

First, make your way to the shrine, where you can throw a coin into the offering box and say a prayer.

Or, you can rub the statue of the Buddha for good luck, get your fortune, or bathe in smoke from the sacred fire.

Some people even bring their pets to be blessed.

But you've come here for Daruma dolls and there are plenty of those. They come in various colors that signify different things. Red is the color of the traditional Daruma, but I'm told that pink, for example, is for luck in love.
As you can see, the eyes are blank. You have to fill them in yourself with a black felt tip pen or whatever - the first when you make a wish, the second when the wish comes true.

I think the beauty of the Daruma may be about focus and goal setting rather than believing that actual power lies in the doll. But I don't know enough about it. I've read that it's tradition to take the dolls back to the temple where you got them at the end of the year to be burned.

Local residents work at the festival

A Japanese family takes a picture in front of the shrine


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