People In Japan Are Polishing Balls Of Dirt And It's Amazing
It's hard to believe that these gorgeous pieces were once just mud and sand!
Catherine Marucci

If you’ve never heard of dorodango, now is the time to see what it’s all about. It is the Japanese art of taking nothing more than mud and dirt and turning it into what is called a shiny dumpling, or “hikaru dorodango.”

The art form is a traditional activity for Japanese school kids, and it teaches patience as they can take days to complete a perfect sphere.


Making dorodango

The process itself is oddly satisfying. It is probably due to the hard work you put in, and the simple actions that create something so beautiful. You begin by layering fine dirt onto the mud core, so as to make a hard outer shell. Then you polish it with a cloth, which makes it become shiny (pretty odd for dirt, we know).

The Last Straw
The Last Straw


The art form was forgotten until a professor named Fumio Kayo revived it, says BoredPanda writer Ilona. Kayo specializes in children’s play and made it popular in Japan. There was even a meme of sorts recently in which people in Japan were making perfect spheres from aluminum foil. This is certainly a throwback to the art of dorodango.


It’s a wonderful thing that it is back! Now it has even come to America. Bruce Gardner, an American who has perfected the art form, makes his own out of the rich, beautiful soils he finds near Albuquerque, New Mexico. He creates spheres of shiny red, black, gray, and white that are lovely in their simplicity, and very soothing to look at.


He first encountered the art form in a magazine and has never looked back. “I’m always working on two or three pieces….” he told BoredPanda. They take weeks to complete, and require lots of time, meditation, and patience.

Bruce went on to add that the difference in soil can have an impact on your dorodango. He stated that adjustments to the creation process must be implemented as a means to accommodate the various amounts of silt, clay, and other particles in the soil. He added it can take several attempts to get the soil just right to perfect a piece. And the imperfections within the spheres make them much more lovable. He discusses the Raku glazing that occurred when he left some of the dorodango on a shelf to be crushed and attempted again. They sat for a year and the cracks in the dorodango became part of their charm instead of something to be avoided.


Bruce offers workshops about dorodango, but if you can’t make it out, we’ve listed the steps here so you can see what the process is like. Hopefully, you will be inspired to try this satisfying and rewarding art form and discover the joyful relaxation of dorodango.

Make your own

  1. Begin by collecting the soil.
  2. Separate the rocks from the soil.
  3. Shape your soil into a ball.
  4. Add layers over time to the ball. This process takes about 30 minutes to complete.
  5. Next comes the fun part. You kick back, relax and shape the ball to perfection.
  6. Well, maybe it’s not so relaxing as this stage is where the ball can crack. Be wary of this and don’t get discouraged.
  7. Dry it in a plastic bag after you are satisfied with the shape.
  8. Repeat the process a few more times, adding dirt and shaping, and letting it sit.
  9. After this, you can polish.
  10. And polish.
  11. And polish some more.
  12. And after all that polishing you are left with a gorgeous, shiny sphere that you can take pride in. You made it, display it with confidence.

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The Last Straw
The Last Straw

Enjoy making your own dorodango and try with a friend for extra fun.

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By Catherine Marucci
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Catherine Marucci is a contributor at SBLY Media.