Takasaki City (Gunma Prefecture), 100 kilometers north of Tokyo, is the capital of the daruma doll, a good luck charm, representing a famous Zen monk. The tradition of the daruma doll as a good luck charm was started at Takasaki's Shorinzan Daruma Temple (少林山達磨寺, Shōrinzan Darumaji) several centuries ago and has since spread across Japan.
Today, Takasaki remains the major producer of daruma dolls, and Shorinzan Daruma Temple continues to host the country's largest and most famous daruma market (daruma ichi) annually on January 6 and 7, attracting thousands of visitors and offering daruma dolls of all sizes.
Daruma dolls are traditionally bought in the beginning of each new year without pupils painted on. A wish is then made and one of the doll's pupils is painted on. If the wish comes true, the second pupil is also added, and the doll is returned to the temple or shrine at the end of the year to be burnt.
By local trains on the JR Takasaki Line from central Tokyo, the one way journey to Takasaki takes about 110 minutes and costs 1940 yen. There are several direct trains per hour from Ueno Station, and at least one direct train per hour from Shinjuku Station (running on the Shonan Shinjuku Line).
From Takasaki Station to the Daruma Temple
Infrequently departing "Gururin" loop buses connect Takasaki Station with Shorinzan Temple. Take the Shorinzan Line Number 1 and get off at "Shorinzan Guchi" bus stop. The one way trip takes about 25 minutes and costs 200 yen. To return to Takasaki Station, take the Shorinzan Line Number 2, which runs in the opposite direction of line number 1. Additional buses run during the daruma market.
Alternatively, the temple can be accessed in a 15-20 minute walk from Gunma-Yawata Station (5 minutes, 200 yen from Takasaki Station along the JR Shinetsu Line, 1-2 trains/hour).
By taxi it takes about 15 minutes and 2000 yen to get from Takasaki Station to the daruma temple.