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Traditional Japanese Craftsmanship

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Kyoto Craft

Part 4: Lucky Talismans

The spirit of the Japanese craftsman breathes new life and good luck into handmade objects.

Daruma (good luck charm)


The daruma doll is made in the image of the Bodhidharma, who is considered the founder of Zen Buddhism in India, in seated meditation. There are many different kinds of daruma good-luck mascots all over Japan. Photograph is a hariko style made of papier-mâché. It is said that through the peace of mind and harmony that comes with seated meditation, one’s feeling of the world also changes. “Fall seven times, get up eight.”



Koma (Japanese spinning top)


A spinning top which, when standing upright, represents independence. The hama-goma tops pictured above are one of the many crafts made on the lathe. Each is sharpened at a uniform thickness without inserting a weight, and has a unique way of spinning. The craftsmen of Nagahama are said to have inherited their skills from the fields of Eigen-ji Temple in Higashi-omi, birthplace of the woodworking lathe.


An Illustrated English-Japanese Dictionary of Japanese Life

An illustrated dictionary with English explanations of everything you ever wanted to know about Japan—from customs and culture to entertainment, economics, environmental issues, and more!

This Japanese-English bilingual guide to Japanese life is lavishly illustrated with some 560 photos and illustrations. The thorough yet easy-to-read text includes chapters on geography, customs, traditional culture, sports and entertainment, and society. A must for anyone traveling to Japan, whether for study, business, or pleasure.

Text by Mieko Sawada. Photos by Yoshito Nakano. Edited by Devon Menuez.