Toy collectors are bound to flip over this cute new “Daruma Yokai” series out this month from Idea International. Daruma are traditional Japanese dolls, usually painted red and sold at temples for good luck. According to custom, people paint in one eye of the daruma when they set a goal, and then paint the other after they achieve it. These particular daruma are based on fanciful monster characters from the classic anime “Ge Ge no Kitaro.” The yokai concept was brought up to date by the team at Design Office Nendo, the innovative company behind the recent controversial but achingly cool MD.net mental health clinic in Asakusa. The initial batch of eight characters will include “nedama no oyaji” (eyeball father), “nezumi otoko” (rat man) and “nurikabe” (plaster wall), but there are plans to extend the series if it proves popular.”
A portion of the profits made from the Daruma Yokai series will go to “Made in Japan” a nonprofit organization that supports local craftsmen and businesses in Japan. The organization was founded in 1900 in Gifu Prefecture and helps businesses by holding seminars and workshops for local craftsmen as well as giving financial aid. Their aim is to keep the traditional crafts alive in Japan that might otherwise die out. Dolls cost ¥2,000 but at least you get that warm, fuzzy feeling of helping keep Japan’s artisan heritage alive.
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