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Summer 2005, vol 3 no 2

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Daruma Gallery:
Daruma Introduction by Gabi Greve

[ click on an image to view a larger version with accompanying text]


Daruma Shikishiban
by Nishibe Bunjo,
20th century


Daruma Haiga Scroll Paintings
Images courtesy of: Robyn Buntin of Honolulu
Fine Art of Asia and the Pacific - Japanese Gallery


chiru ume o he to mo omowanu o-kao kana

not giving a damn
that plum blossoms fall
...his stern face

[translation by David Lanoue]

daruma ki ya chinpunkan o naku chidori

on Dharma's Death Day
spouting gibberish...
a plover

[translation by David Lanoue]

daruma ki ya hooki de kakishi fuji no yama

Dharma's Death-Day--
with a broom I draw
Mount Fuji

[translation by David Lanoue]


daruma ki ya kasa sashikakeru ume no hana

Dharma's Death-Day
in umbrella shade...
plum blossoms

[translation by David Lanoue]

Daruma san-
high in the sky
a firework dances
                        —Gabi Greve
Sitting in Silence
Daruma meditating
In Japanese
                        —Gabi Greve
spring wind -
Daruma sits
sweet cherries
princess Daruma smiles
with red lips
september moon
Daruma losing sleep
over typhoon


by Gabi Greve

Collecting Daruma items for more than 20 years, Gabi Greve opened the Daruma Museum in 2003. It features more than 1000 items of Daruma san (the Indian Monk Bodhidharma) in his various appearances in Japanese Culture.

Who is Daruma san, you might ask?

"For centuries Zen masters have said that Daruma is Zen. Perhaps it would now be appropriate to say that Daruma is Japan. In neither case is the definition fully explicable or applicable. Each is essentially a KOAN whose solution is accessible only to experience, not to rational analysis. This is to assert finally that Daruma is one key to an authentic and rewarding experience of Japan and the Japanese people."

The above quotation is by Prof. McFarland in his book about Daruma in Popular Japanese Culture. Gabi's Daruma collection follows in his footsteps.

Daruma san is said to have been sitting in deep meditation for nine years in front of a cliff in a Chinese monastery, so his limbs withered and he gained the form of the traditional papier mache dolls. Since he lived for more than 150 years, as legend tells us, even through some attempts on his life, the saying "Seven times down, eight times up" (nana-korobi, ya-oki) is a famous saying in Japan to encourage a person in distress.

Further he is said to be the founder of the famous Shaolin exercises and self-defense movements developed by him during his travels around the country.

Daruma is also the symbol for good luck and good business, so many of his dolls are sold during the New Year. Politicians tend to paint an eye for a Daruma doll before the elections and paint the other one, when they win the election. To make the choice of the winner is up to Daruma san, so one might think he has a tough job here.

See the lovely haiga by Sakuo Nakamura san at:


Gabi Greve, born in Germany in 1948, medical doctor at Heidelberg University, has been living in Japan since 1977 as a freelance translator and writer about Buddhist Art, her second speciality. She and her husband live in Okayama Prefecture, Japan.

To improve her understanding of Japanese language and culture, Gabi started to study haiku in Kamakura about 15 years ago. She joined the WHC in January 2004 and now tries to make use of her knowledge about kigo in the World Kigo Database.

Gabi Greve's Daruma information: .

Copyright 2005: Simply Haiku