Dorodango Japanese polished dirt balls

Dorodango mudballs
Dorodango mudballs

Dorodango is a traditional pastime for Japanese schoolchildren, and now it has evolved into an art form. Dorodango is a shiny ball made of mud and dirt and the name ‘hikaru dodorango’ literally translates to ‘shiny dumpling’. These polished spheres are amusing people online as they look like one of the most satisfying things ever.

The hand-rolling of this soil-based mixture can be relaxing and comfortable to do. Dorodango is not without its difficulties and needs a high degree of skill, patience and concentration. Given the fragility and inclination of the dorodango to break, the perfectly formed ball is elusive. It can also be a challenging process to achieve the perfect shine.

Dorodango shining mudballs
Dorodango shining mudballs

The rolled mud ball is sun-dried for a few days and then coated several times with the soil mixture until it has the perfect form. Dorodangos need not be flawless in the early stages. Some practitioners use a glass jar with an opening slightly smaller in size than the dried ball diameter, which helps the dorodango sit comfortably. The ball is rolling, rubbing it gently against the jar’s mouth until it turns smoothly.

After polishing, the most drastic changes happen. To polish the ball, olive oil is spread over the surface, then the ball is pressed against the opening of a small container, then rotated, which exposes the shine.

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