You see, Osaka leaves an impression of this contemporary, vibrant and a bit boisterous city. It has a reputation for being a food mecca and entertainment central with tons of great restaurants and the famous Universal Studios attracting lots of crowds. Compared to its neighboring Kyoto and Nara there seem to be less culturally and historically significant landmarks. I mentioned it before that I personally prefer Tokyo over Osaka, but I need to give the city a huge credit: both times I came here I discovered shrines that left me spellbound and amazed to an extent that I was on the brink of not sharing the treasures I found with anyone (but I’m not a mean blogger like that). On this trip, I yearned for rural adventures and my primary goal was to escape the urban scape as mush as possible and see what’s out there beyond the bustle of major Japanese metropolises. A 15-min train ride followed by a 30-minute bus ride in the mountains north of Osaka, brought me to Katsuo-ji Temple, a temple of the winner’s luck. Founded in 765, this Buddhist temple makes you oooh and aaaah the moment you step off the bus. I probably arrived at a perfect time of the year as the foliage-drenched hills behind provided a breathtaking backdrop. The flaming red and yellow of the momiji leaves created a magnificent contrast against the splendid greens of the forest. Although, the brochure they give you at the ticket booth informs the visitors that the grounds are equally stunning during cherry blossom as well as hydrangea (ajisai) blooming seasons. As I stood at the entrance staring at the massive complex, I let my initial spine-tingling excitement pass before I proceeded to explore. The temple grounds are filled with elaborate gardens, ponds with colorful koi fish, fountains and even beautiful pagoda. One of the most prominent features of the temple are the daruma omikuji of all sizes and colors. People bring them back after having it at home for a year of luck and put them down anywhere and everywhere. You’ll see them stacked, tucked away and perched in the most unassuming corners all over the place. It’s like a little daruma city, and you are on a treasure hunt to find these little guys hidden in every nook and cranny.
In addition to being associated with good luck, the daruma represents future goals. With the New Year approaching, which is the biggest winter holiday in Japan, it was a perfect reminder that I should commit to my resolutions and aspirations for 2017. Many people buy a new daruma for the new year with a certain goal in mind, and at the end of the year they bring back them back, with both eyes filled in, and they burn them in a big New Year’s bonfires that many shrines perform.
Sweet smell of incense, the sound of the priests chanting, vibrant foliage colors, breathtaking grounds and views, mist atop the pond, colorful koi, daruma planted everywhere. The place is incredibly atmospheric and charming. It was so much fun to wander and take it all in, definitely one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in Japan. I bought a little daruma statue for myself to take home. It will go on a shelf by my computer desk and remind me to keep working on my goals.
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Linking up with wonderful bloggers at Wanderlust Wednesday & Faraway Files.
How did you get there from Osaka, please? Thanks!!
Hi Jerry. Take a Hankyu bus bound for Hokusetsu-Reien at Senri-chuo Station. It was platform 4, bus number 29 but please doublecheck upon arrival to the station in case these details changed. Good luck!
Cool, thanks for the info!
I went to Osaka years and years ago to visit my second cousins. To be perfectly honest I don’t remember much of it at all (I think I was in fourth grade at the time) but this post definitely makes me want to go back!
Thanks for reading Addie, I’m glad the post evoked some happy memories of your visit :) Hope you’ll get back and explore this spot one time, it is amazing.
Wow! An amazing place and your photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing :)
Thanks for reading :)
This is by far, my favorite post of yours! Stunning! Thank you for sharing it. The colors are stunning and I learned something! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles
Erin, thank you very much for your nice words. AND Thanks for hosting #FarawayFiles! :)
Your photos are always so stunning, Nano, and this is just wonderful. I really like the idea of picking up one of those darumas and bringing it home for good luck. My two boys would love that fun and colourful treasure hunt. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful post on #FarawayFiles
Clare thank you so much! I think it would be a perfect spot for family travel, the grounds are expansive and there is a lot to peruse and discover, kids would have tons of fun. :)
Nano this is an absolutely beautiful and inspiring post. I just want to jump on a plane and go to Osaka now so I can visit this beautiful place. Loved that you shared the temple with us on #FarawayFiles
Katy, couldn’t thank you enough! I hope you’ll get to visit it soon :)
Oh how lovely! Looks absolutely peaceful and serene! If I ever go to Japan, it’ll either be in the fall or the spring! Just added this to my Japan pin board for later! #FarawayFiles
I think you made the right call, after living here through all four seasons I strongly believe Spring/Fall are the best times to visit! :)
I love this post and your beautiful photos! Osaka is on my list and now so is this lovely place! #farawayfiles
Thank you Hilary, hope you’ll get to visit the temple when you’re in Osaka. :)
Just so very beautiful! :) You’ve captured the gorgeous colours so well.
Thank you Marcella, it means a lot!
Absolutely stunning and breath-taking photos, Nano! This looks like something straight out of a Miyazaki movie!
Jamie, thank you so much, it means a lot! The place was truly stunning :)
I agree Osaka is like the wayward younger brother of Tokyo but I loved the atmosphere on the streets. Sadly we didn’t make it to this beautiful temple.
Osaka is definitely on my ‘to visit’ wanderlust list, and with Temples like this…!
Definitely worth a visit! :)