Here to help you with the heavy work of making all your wishes come true.  

For a lot of people, the beginning of the year is a good time to set goals, and in Japan there’s a unique way to help make those goals a reality, with the help of a daruma.

Modelled on Bodhidharma, the monk credited with founding Zen Buddhism, these special dolls have rounded bottoms that give them a self-righting ability so they never fall over. Usually, they don’t have any arms or legs — Bodhidharma’s were said to have fallen off after years of non-stop seated meditation — but now there’s a new type of daruma on the scene just in time for New Year that adds human limbs to the heads, and it’s slightly unsettling.

Called Daruma Man, this new take on the traditional figurine comes from gacha capsule toy manufacturer Kitan Club, a company that has a reputation for making unconventional ideas a reality, and this concept is certainly no exception.

Released at the end of October, we finally managed to get our hands on all four of the daruma in the collection, with the actual head acting as the capsule for each, concealing the limbs within.

▼ Bringing Daruma Man to life is as simple as popping the limbs into the slots.

Despite being made of plastic — traditional daruma are papier-mâché — these gacha do a great job of resembling the real thing, only, of course, with the odd addition of arms and legs.

That’s part of what makes these so awesome, though, and if you have more than one, you can swap the limbs to achieve different looks. They’re a bit of a tight fit, however, so we just assembled them as they were intended, and now we’re ready to introduce you to our gang of Daruma Men, and the individual powers they’re designed to impart.

1. Goukaku (Pass)

Need to pass a test or exam? Then this Daruma Man is here to help you out, with three different messages on its body — goukaku (“合格”), meaning “pass“, gakugyou jouju (“学業成就”) meaning “completion of studies”, and mokuhyo tassei (“目標達成”), meaning “goal achievement“. That’s a lot of heavy lifting for one daruma, but it’s strong enough for the task, with the biggest muscles in the group to handle the job.

2. Hissho (Guaranteed Victory)

This Daruma Man takes a more Zen-like approach to making your dreams a reality, with a cross-legged, open-palm meditation pose that’s surprisingly difficult to assemble. Still, if it grants what it says on it — “Great Wish Fulfilment” (“大願成就” / “taigan joujyu”) , “Goal Achievement” (“目標達成” / “mokuhyo tassei”), and “Guaranteed Victory” (“必勝” / “hisshou”), the assembly will be more than worth it.

3. Kotobuki (“Longevity”)

This white Daruma Man is dedicated to long-lasting relationships, with wishes for “matrimonial happiness” (“夫婦円満” / “fuufuenman”), “peace and prosperity in the household” (“家内安全” / “kanai anzen”) and “longevity” (“寿” / “kotobuki”) printed on it.

4. Good Fortune (Fuku)

The final Daruma Man in the series has its arms wide open, ready to catch all the luck that comes your way, with the messages “Great Wish Fulfilment” (“大願成就” / “taigan joujyu”), “Business Prosperity” (“shoubaihanjou” / “商売繁盛”), and “Good Fortune” (“福” / “Fuku”) printed on its glittering metallic gold body.

▼ This family of Daruma Men cover all the bases for our New Year’s resolutions.

This modern take on a traditional talisman delivers good fortune with a generous dose of humour, especially when combined with some everyday items around the home.

▼ The Daruma Men make good companions for cats…

▼…and they don’t look out of place as Christmas tree ornaments either!

Those who prefer traditional daruma can simply detach the limbs and display them as heads. The plastic is quite smooth, though, so if you’d like to give the daruma eyes — it’s customary to draw one eye on the daruma when you make your wish and the other on once it’s been granted — you’ll want to use a round sticker or permanent marker.

The Daruma Men can be found at Kitan Club gacha vending machines priced at 400 yen (US$2.80) a pop, so keep an eye out for them next time you feel like putting your luck in the hands of the gacha gods. Sometimes, the gods will smile on you!

Related: Kitan Club
Photos © SoraNews24
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