A Snowman Looks a Little Different in Japan

May 17, 2023

snowman 2

If you’re ever in Japan during the winter and happen to see a snowman, it probably would look a bit peculiar to the ones you’re accustomed to if you’re from the West. For one thing, they’ll look like they’re missing their mid-section, and they don’t have any arms. In Japan, snowmen (or women) are made from two snowballs rather than three, and the arms are never included.

The Japanese word for snowman is yukidaruma. This is a combination of the word “yuki,” which means snow, and “daruma,” which is the name for a Zen-Buddhist monk from a long time ago named Bodhidharma, who is believed to be the founder of Zen Buddhism and brought it from India to China.

daruma dolls
Daruma dolls at a shrine

“Daruma” dolls are also round figures that are bought as good luck charms. They’re small, red dolls with no arms or legs and are modeled after Bodhidharma. They just so happen to resemble the snowmen in Japan. So, the Japanese have a good reason for having two snowballs instead of three on their snowmen. Japanese children also like to make a variation on the snowman called yukiusagi, or snow bunny, with green leaves for ears and red berries for eyes. Usagi means “rabbit” in Japanese.

Sources: All About Japan, Team Japanese

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