This post is mainly about the annual Daruma Market, but you will also find information for the temple’s main ‘hanamatsuri’ festival, on May 5th annually, in the paragraph before “information”.
If you missed the Daruma Market in Kawagoe, here is another chance to buy a Daruma for this year. But don’t worry if you can’t make this one either, there will be more chances in the next month. For example, on February 1st in Kazo or February 3rd at the Setsubun Mamemaki Ceremony at Kitain. The Daruma Market in Sakado is really just for buying Daruma – it doesn’t have the same festive atmosphere as Kitain and it is a much much smaller event.
Daruma is a quintessential Japanese New Year tradition. And the Daruma doll is a popular symbol of New Year’s in Japan. Daruma are made from papier-mâché, are round, usually red with a face of a bearded man. They are actually modeled after Bodhidarma the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. People who are firm believers in the Daruma tend to buy one every New Year and burn the old one as per tradition.
The doll eyes are not painted in when you buy them. The idea is to paint in one eye, usually the left one, as you start a quest. You then paint the other eye on completion of your resolution or task. As such, they have become a symbol of perseverance and good luck. They make a nice keepsake of a trip to Japan. Moreover, they are a good luck charm and a really nice New Year’s tradition.
Daruma Market, or Darumashi / Daruma Shi だるま市, are carried out in the New Year. Takasaki in Gunma, where my Japan Journey started in 2000, is the most famous place for Daruma. It has the largest and most popular Daruma market in all of Japan. In Saitama, several places have Daruma Market in the New Year. Unlike in my home country (Ireland), New Year is not just January 1st, but actually a celebration that goes on for most of January! So while we may not consider January 10th “New Year” in some countries, in Japan it is and thus a fitting time for a Daruma Market.
Daruma Market Sakado
The Daruma Market in Sakado is held at Eigenji Temple on January 10th annually, regardless of the day of the week. As most people are back to work after the long New Year holiday, the benefit it is a lot less crowded. Places like Kitain and Kamikawa, where the Daruma Market is on when most people are still on New Year holidays, can get very crowded. Moreover, this is a much smaller market than either of those. And it really just is for buying Daruma. There are only about four or five Daruma stalls and one stall selling vegetables!
Eigenji is not on many tourist maps. But it is known within certain circles in Japan. Because it is one of the temples that still practise Hanamatsuri with a chigogyoretsu children’s parade. They celebrate it annually on Children’s Day May 5th from 1 pm to 8 pm. There are festival stalls in the precincts from day to night. You can see taiko drum performances and hashigonori during the afternoon. Official event page.
Other: There is a playground on the grounds. Its old, but functional.
Daruma Market Sakado Information
Event: Daruma Market だるま市
Date: Tuesday January 10th
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Venue: Eigenji, 12-69 Nakacho, Sakado, Saitama 350-0227. View on Google Maps.
The temple is about a ten minute walk from the North exit of Sakado Station which is on the Tobu Tojo and Tobu Ogose Lines. There is a small parking lot at the temple. You can even park there during the festival. There is also coin parking near the station.
The Eigenji temple is across the road from Chocotea, where you can get 3D foam art latte!