Friday, August 21, 2009

Bodhidharma and Japan's Upcoming Election

Japan: Political Lucky Charms for Upcoming Election

Candidates for Japan’s upcoming general election are using a bit of supernatural help to win. Lucky Buddhist dolls or “daruma” are popular among politicians. These dolls are modeled after the founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma.[Seiishi Hirose, Buddhist Monk, Daruma Temple]:"Using a daruma is in part to gather the cooperation of a lot of people, so candidates will put it in their political office in order to win. Everyone then makes dedications to the daruma and makes some sort of goal such as 'Let's win!'" Daruma dolls are made in a small factory in the outskirts of Tokyo. They were introduced as part of the electoral campaign traditions in the 1930s. The dolls represented a saint that could roll back upright even if pushed down repeatedly. It symbolized the road to success despite repeated failures. [Junichi Nakada, Daimonya Owner]:"Candidates up for election put in one eye on one side, and then if they win, put in the other side. This has becomes a kind of traditional thing to do in relatively recent history." Demand for these dolls has increased due to the upcoming general election.When these dolls are no longer in use, they are laid to rest at Daruma temple. Once or twice a year, most are blessed before being burned. But a few of the more popular dolls are kept in a museum, such as those that belonged to former prime ministers.

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