Japan is a country that really values tradition, but that doesn’t mean that traditional culture is completely sacrosanct either. Giving something old and iconic a tongue-in-cheek modern twist is a popular approach in art and commerce, with results at once familiar and jarring enough to be eye catching.

Like these daruma, spotted at Tokyo Design Week, with outrageous paint jobs and wearing some rather tasty-looking headgear.

Daruma, for those of you who might not be familiar, are are a kind of roly-poly wishing doll in Japanese Buddhism. You draw one eye in while making a wish, and then fill in the other when your wish comes true.

▼ Traditionally painted daruma


According to designer Asako Adachi of Homemade Lab Mineya, the concept for her neo-daruma came about in 2013 as she pondered how popular Japan’s plastic and wax food samples were among overseas visitors. She decided to try fusing them to the standard daruma body shape for a fun, vibrant take on an old classic.


Since then, the daruma have been bedecked with parfaits, fried pork cutlets, salads, sashimi, simmered beef, bar snacks, cocktails and more.

Adachi says the pieces are popular with Japanese businesses, which often display little mascots or manekineko beckoning cats to attract customers. They are also being given as gifts to new businesses in lieu of the traditional flowers.

▼Look deep into my eyes. You are getting hungry… very hungry.


Each daruma is unique and made by hand by Adachi. She also takes custom orders in case you have a very particular color scheme or fake food in mind. Prices start at 14,580 yen (about US$121) for the smallest size pictured here, which stand about 22-26cm (8.5–10 inches) tall.

▼ I wish I had some sushi.


  ▼ Even cute from the back


▼ Come on, who wouldn’t want to find this on the shelf of their local drinking hole?


▼ I don’t know what kind of store this is for, but it looks like the place to be for a party!


I confess to already having a couple of traditional daruma decorating my house. I’m not a believer in their superstitious aspects, but I just find their rotund little bodies and big eyes charming. Now I’m thinking I need at least one more, though. This time with leopard print and fake eyelashes. You know, to attract fabulousness.