Daruma are hollow, round, traditional Japanese dolls that are usually weighted at the bottom so no matter which way to place them spring back up—symbolic of overcoming adversity. They are typically red—symbolising good luck and fortune—but other colours such as gold (wealth and prosperity) and white (love and harmony) can be found. When you buy a Daruma doll it will be painted except for the eyes, which will be left white. The owner is supposed fill an eye each time a wish has been fulfilled.
The Daruma market in Ome dates back—depending on who you ask—to either 1596 or 1441. Silk farming was once the main industry in Ome, and for the first few hundred years the market sold mayu-dama, rice cakes shaped like silkworms skewered on bamboo and put on display to wish for a good year for the silk worm industry. The market began to sell Daruma about 180 years ago, and with the rise of synthetics and decline of sericulture after the war, the silkworm industry vanished from Ome. Today it is very much a local event which celebrates the city’s past, but people do travel from afar to buy the speciality Tama-Daruma. The main road is pedestrianised between 1pm and 8pm.