Friday, January 9, 2015

Carpe Diem #644, First Market (Hatsuchi)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today we have another nice classical kigo for the fifth season, New Year. As I told you in one of my earlier posts ... New Year season is the season of "first things" traditionally and today our prompt is also something "first".
Today we are visiting the First Market (Hatsuchi) ... and I think that needs no further explanation, because in classical Japan there were several Markets (e.g. Year Market, Summer Market, Last Year Market) and at the start of a New Year they all looked forward to the "first market". I love to tell you a little bit more about one of the biggest Daruma Markets of Japan, Takasaki Shorin-zan Daruma Market.

New Year is the season for many Daruma Markets all over Japan, mostly around the Kanto area. It seems everybody wants to make sure the coming year brings him/her a little more good luck and it takes a Daruma doll without eyes to help with that big task.
A Daruma Market is held at many Buddhst temples and Shinto shrines at their respecitve festival days, but mostly during the New Year season. Most Daruma Markets are held in Northern and Central Japan with Tokyo at the center, but in Western Japan there are only a few. The markets are scheduled one after another to permit the vendors to move from one to the next. At most temples and shrines everywhere in Japan you can get a papermachee Daruma doll during the first three days of the New Year.

Daruma Dolls

Takasaki Shorin-zan Daruma Market 

Maybe the oldest, biggest and most well-known Daruma Market is held at the famous Daruma Temple Shorin-zan in Takasaki (Shoorin-zan, Shoorinzan). The temple is located about a 15 minutes drive from Takasaki Station. (It takes about 3 hours from Tokyo by train to get
there.) The temple Shorin-zan belongs to the Obaku Sect of Zen and is known as the place of origin of the Good Luck Daruma .

This Daruma Market is held every year at the sixth and seventh of January, the seventh is the great festival of the special rice gruel with seven vegetables, eaten on this day only. During the middle of the Edo period Mt. Asama erupted and the great famine of Tenmei followed soon. It was a hard period for the local farmers. To help eleviate their burden the head priest of the Temple Shorin-zan had the good idea to make a little papermachee doll of Daruma and sell it as a token for good luck. The first figures were representing the monk himself sitting in meditation in a realistic way, but soon they became simpler and took the round form of a silkworm cocoon. Now we know them as the "Daruma for Good Luck" of Takasaki.

Shorin-Zan Temple at Takasaki

Climbing up the long stone stairs you come to the main hall with a statue of the Zen patriarch Daruma Daishi in his red robe, seated in meditation. All around the hall are stalls and half of them sell Daruma dolls, some sell also beckoning cats and the zodiac animal of the new year. Daruma comes in many sizes, from a tiny ball for about 3 dollars to a big one costing a fortune. But you can haggle about the prize, if you find a doll that suits you. The Daruma has no eyes painted, so you can paint one while making your wish for the New Year.

painting an eye
on the Daruma doll bought at the First Market -
wishes for good luck

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 12th at noon (CET). I will publish our next episode, Sacred Arrow (Hamayumi), later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku (or tanka) with us all here at our Haiku Kai.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't read this in time to be able to write on this, but this post about Daruma dolls made a very interesting read.
    I hadn't heard of Daruma dolls and am very fascinated by them now.