Why is Only One Eye Painted Black On a “Daruma”(だるま) ?
Normally, Daruma’s eyes are blank. Right before an exam, an important match, or a politician running for a race will pray for success and paint the left eye. Then once this wish has come true, they will paint the right eye. (In some regions or depending on the wish, the eye will be painted from the right to the left. But no real set rules on this vies.)
Daruama is originated from buddhism. It was modeled after “Bodhaidaruma” (ぼだいだるま) who was a buddhist monk who founded the concept of “Zen”. Daruma is formed without legs or arms. This came from a myth that the monk was practicing “Zazen” (座禅、seated meditation) for 9 years and it rotten his legs and arms. Daruma’s body represents an old belief that red color which comes from fire and blood, has the power to prevent sickness and disaster.
Today we see less and less Daruma at one’s house, but smaller company or offices, and country side occasionally still decorate a Daruma. In all over Japan you will find different size of Daruma sold as a charm, small ones are 5 cm (about 1.97 inches, 0.16 ft) of height, 20 g (about 0.044 lb, 0.705 oz) of weight and larger ones can go up to more than 100 cm (about 39.37 inches, 3.28 ft) and over 5 kg (about 11.02 lbs, 176.37 oz).
It might be a good souvenir for friends who have exams or important match!