No one knows the true origins of Hikaru Dorodango, only that this process of shaping mud into perfect spheres originated in Japan. Like an Asian version of the American mud pie, school children across Japan spend hours and hours playing in the mud, combining water and dirt in their hands, and sculpting it into a perfect, smooth globe.
“The children soon became attached to their mud balls and treasured them even if the shape was bad or if they did not shine,” reads this historical account of the process. With enough attention and a soft polishing rag, a once-dull ball of dirt can acquire a surprising amount of luster similar in size and sheen to that of a billiard ball.
There are a few guides online where you can learn to replicate this Japanese tradition, and pass the process onto your kids in conjunction, perhaps, with a mini geography lesson. If you don’t have kids, that’s alright. A little dirt never hurt anyone — adults included.
This article at Web Japan offers the easiest instructions, while Dorodango.com’s tutorial is more in depth. This website offers another guide, and even includes how-to pictures and a video [wmv] to guide you and your kids along the way to perfecting the process of Hikaru Dorodango. [via]