Takasaki Daruma

Make Your Own Luck in Takasaki

Daruma, hollow and rounded dolls generally made from paper, are one of Japan’s most enduring lucky icons. In Takasaki, visitors can try their hand at the craft in a workshop led by artisans recognized by Gunma Prefecture’s most famous daruma craftsman.

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Learn about the history of daruma dolls, and even make one yourself, in Takasaki.

Learn about the history of daruma dolls, and even make one yourself, in Takasaki.

Modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, Takasaki Daruma® serve as lucky talisman said to grant the requests of people. The round, red icons were first created by 18th-century farmers (who ascribed their good fortune properties) in Takasaki City in Gunma Prefecture. The city of around 370,000 inhabitants produces a majority of all dolls distributed across the nation.

And when it comes to daruma production in Takasaki, one man is the undisputed emperor of the 200-year-old trade: Junichi Nakata. Like many of Japan’s ancient arts and crafts, daruma dolls may have faded in popularity but fourth-generation doll maker Nakata is one of the trusty artisans who’ve made it their raison d’etre to keep the craft alive. At Daimonya, his workshop, Nakata fashions dolls of the most elaborate sizes, painted in fabulous shades of vermillion, gold, and jet black, inscribing them with calligraphy representing “fortune,” “perseverance,” or another equally positive sentiment.

Daimonya produces around 70,000 individual daruma dolls each year, from as small as 4.5 centimeters up to a whopping 74 centimeters in height, and the all-important facial hair design is done by Nakata’s experienced hands. The studio functions more like a museum or art gallery in which you can purchase the traditional curios on display. However, workshops held by Nakata himself are also available. During these workshops, he’ll talk about Gunma’s traditional crafts, and explain the meaning of the daruma’s face. After that, you’ll have a chance to watch him at work, before drawing a face on your own, personal daruma.

Takasaki Daruma

Takasaki Daruma

Learn the history of daruma, one of Japan’s most popular lucky charms, from a living legend of the art at Daimonya in Takasaki. To get to this Gunma city from Tokyo, take the Hokuriku or Joetsu Shinkansen from Ueno Station to Takasaki Station before transferring to a local train or bus. In only one hour and 40 minutes, you’ll be on your way to creating your own fortune. And if you want other places to visit while in Gunma, you’re in luck! Here’s our model itinerary list.

Phone number

+81 27-323-5223


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Business hours

09:00 - 17:00


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