The Faceless Good luck Doll ~ Lost in Japan

A good luck doll with no face!


This is an interesting one. In the town of Takayama, they sell these red dolls with no faces called Sarubobo (さるぼぼ). Traditionally they were made for grandmothers for their granddaughters as a charm for having a lucky marriage, an easy childbirth, and good kids, but these days they are sold at pretty much every tourist shop as general goodluck charms.

Sarubobo literally means "baby monkey"—saru is monkey in Japanese, and bobo is baby in Takayama dialect. Monkeys are said to have easy childbirths, and that is one of the lucks the charm wants to give.

Like I said, the original purpose of the doll is kind of out the window these days, and it's just become another tourist item. Takayama is a fairly popular travel destination for the older parts of their city, so I imagine they city makes a lot of money from this doll. Lucky! (for the city)


Hi there! David LaSpina is an American photographer and translator lost in Japan, trying to capture the beauty of this country one photo at a time and searching for the perfect haiku.

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    I saw it in Takayama. So cute.