Daruma dolls like the ones shown below are traditionally sold with the eyeballs unpainted. Those who are setting goals paint one eye to ask for Daruma (representing Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk credited for creating Zen Buddhism in ancient China) for help and the second eye once their goal has been achieved. Then, they take the "spent" Daruma to a temple to be burned in a bonfire.

Photo courtesy of © wasabitool (H.Fujinami) (@wasabitool)

The image of bright red Daruma dolls enveloped in red flames was so impactful that it gave rise to the Japanese expression hidaruma 火だるま referring not only to Daruma dolls but something that has figuratively or literally "gone up in flames."

Perhaps one of the best examples of this impressive sight is at the famous "Daruma Temple" of Aichi Prefecture, 大興寺 Daikōji, at their 開運大日福だるま大祭 kai'un dainichi fuku-daruma taisai ("Great Luck-Bringing Daruma Doll Festival") held once a year on January 10th.

Talented Japanese photographer H. Fujinami, who goes by the name wasabitool (@wasabitool), attended this year and took some amazing shots of the hidaruma. In fact, the photo above is from the Daruma dolls at the festival before they began to burn.

As they trained their camera on the scene, wasabitool captured this amazing shot of the bonfire with a lone Daruma above it in mid-flight:

Reproduced with permission from wasabitool (H.Fujinami) (@wasabitool)

"A hidaruma soaring through the air"

It almost looked as if the Daruma doll was trying to escape...

We asked wasabitool why the Daruma doll was flying and as we waited for a reply, we wondered if it was a Daruma who wasn't ready to face the flames. You can't see its other eye, so maybe it was still unfilled and its previous owner was unable to achieve their goal...

But then the photographer's response quickly dispelled such flights of Daruma fancy from our mind. The simple explanation: Temple staff take Daruma dolls that fall from the heap as the dolls beneath them burn away or dolls that are brought in late after the bonfire has been lit and throw them in.

The amazing photo elicited many comments such as:

  • "That's really cool! So impactful, I love it!"
  • "Wow, that Daruma is flying!"
  • "One of the Daruma dolls in the heap stood up in surprise..."
  • "This is really what you call a hidaruma"
  • "Leave it to wasabitool to capture the perfect moment!"

Here is another amazing photo from wasabitool of the Daruma dolls enveloped in flames:

Photo courtesy of © wasabitool (H.Fujinami) (@wasabitool)

If you'd like to enjoy more of wasabitool's stunning photography, be sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

By - Ben K.