Katsuo-ji is attracting attention both in Japan and abroad as a temple where one can enjoy the blessings of luck in victory. The temple’s precincts, which are filled with “red, round objects” associated with prayers for luck in victory, have attracted much attention, and many visitors come to the temple throughout the year to see this unique sight. We will introduce “Katsuo-ji,” where you can experience a uniquely Japanese custom while feeling the beauty of nature!
A temple with a long history of luck in victory
Katsuo-ji (勝尾寺), located on a hillside in Minoh City in northern Osaka Prefecture, is an ancient temple with a history of about 1,300 years. The temple was named “勝王寺 Katsuo-ji”, meaning “temple that triumphed over the king (王)” because it cured Emperor Seiwa’s illness, but because this was indeed a fearful thing to do, the name was changed to “Katsuo-ji” by changing “王(king)” to “尾(tail)” and changing the name to “勝尾寺 Katsuo-ji”. Later, the temple became widely known as “the temple that grasps victory” because famous military commanders prayed for victory in battle.
Even today, the temple is visited daily by many worshippers who come to pray for luck in all aspects of their lives, including academics, work, and sports. At the same time, the temple is one of the most scenic spots in Osaka, with its vast grounds surrounded by nature and filled with seasonal flowers and grasses. The temple is easily accessible from downtown Osaka, and is even more crowded during the season of autumn foliage and New Year’s visit to the temple.
"Kachi-Dharma", a pledge to "beat yourself"
Katsuo-ji Temple is famous for its “Kacho-Dharma” (winning dharma).
To begin with, “dharma” is a lucky charm to make wishes come true. In Japan, there is an old custom of writing an eye in one eye of the Dharma when wishing for success or victory, and writing the other eye of the Dharma when the wish comes true.
“Winning” in this temple does not mean winning over others, but rather facing oneself and overcoming one’s weak mind. “Kachi-Dharma” does not mean having Dharma grant your wish, but rather a self-vow to “win yourself”.
There are some manners for Dharma dedication, so let me briefly introduce them!
First, after choosing a Dharma with which you feel a connection from among the many Dharmas, write your life purpose at the bottom and the goal you want to achieve in 365 days for that purpose next to it. Next, sign your right eye while pledging in your heart, “I will spare no effort in my daily endeavors,” and fill in that right eye with black. Then, about a year later, return to the shrine to report the results and express your gratitude. If you are blessed with good luck, you will paint your left eye black as well and dedicate it to the “Kachi-Dharma Dedication Shelf”.
The “Kachi-Dharma Dedication Shelf” is located next to the stone steps leading up to the main hall and is filled with dharma dolls dedicated by worshipers! The dharmas, with both eyes aligned, are a testament to the efforts of each and every one of them. The sight of bright red dharma dolls of all sizes lined up in a narrow space is a sight to behold, so be sure to take a commemorative photo here!
Cute mini-dharma dolls can also be seen throughout the temple grounds, such as by the stone steps and in the lanterns. The mini-dharma placed in various places are actually omikuji drawn by visitors. The mini-dharma are filled with lots, and after reading the lots, visitors are allowed to stuff them back into the dharma and leave them wherever they wish. You can even find them in places you would never expect to find them. You may find it in the most unlikely places, so please feel like a treasure hunter and try to find it.
Fantastic scenery at one of the Kansai's best spots for autumn foliage
Katsuo-ji is also known as the “temple of flowers” due to the abundance of flowers in the temple grounds, which offer a variety of cherry blossoms in March and April, rhododendrons in May, and hydrangeas in June and July. The temple’s beautiful green maple leaves during the season of fresh greenery provide a unique contrast to the flowers.
In autumn, the entire grounds of the temple turn red and yellow, creating a fantastic scene that makes it a famous autumn color viewing spot. In particular, the approach to the main hall and Nikaido is covered with autumn leaves like an arch, making it a popular photo spot as a “tunnel of autumn leaves”.
The view from the Kannon Pond plateau is also spectacular, so be sure to stop and take a look.
There are many other spots where you can see beautiful autumn foliage in the grounds of the temple, which are rich in nature! Look up and you will see red maple leaves shining in the sunlight, look down and you will see a colorful carpet of fallen leaves…no matter where you look, you are sure to find a photo opportunity.
In November, the lights are turned on after sunset on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays, creating a dramatic atmosphere that is different from the one during the daytime.
The Benten Pond, located past the “Sanmon (Temple gate)” at the entrance to the temple grounds, will be spectacularly decorated with fountains, mist, and LEDs.
Flaming red is exactly what it means. The illuminated “Tahoto Pagoda” is mysterious and breathtakingly beautiful.
If you want to enjoy the “autumn leaves viewing,” a Japanese autumnal tradition, please visit in November or early December!
Souvenirs with dharma motifs for good luck!
“Goshuin” is a seal that can be obtained as a proof of visit to a temple or shrine. At the temple, visitors can receive them at the Nokyoisho (Sutra Repository) next to the main hall, and can choose from three types ” Goshuin of Daihiden,” “Goshuin of Goeika (Buddhist hymn)”, and “Goshuin of Enkoudaishi”.
Purchasing souvenirs after visiting the shrine is also an enjoyable experience. The souvenir store just outside the temple grounds offers a wide variety of Dharma-themed goods and sweets, including ballpoint pens, mugs, cushions, and other items typical of Katsuo-ji.
Among them, we recommend “Kachi gummy,” a collaboration between an Osaka-based confectionery maker and Katsuo-ji. These gummy bears are said to be made with the power to overcome oneself, and taking a bite of them at a moment of victory, such as an exam, work, or love, may give you a boost of power! If you eat it at the moment of victory, such as an exam, work, or love, you may feel a boost of power. ……? It is also recommended to carry it as a good-luck charm after eating it.
How to get to Katsuo-ji
Visitors can reach Katsuo-ji by train and bus or cab, and those who do not have their own cars can still go sightseeing.
(1) By bus from the nearest station (about 55 minutes from Umeda, Osaka)
① Take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line from Osaka-umeda. Transfer to the Hankyu Minoh Line at Ishibashi handai-mae Station and disembark at Minoh Station. Take the “Minoh Takimichi One-way Sightseeing Tour Bus” and get off at the “Katsuo-ji” stop.
The “Minoh Takimichi One-way Sightseeing Tour Bus” will be in operation on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays until March 10, 2024 (Sun.). 1-day unlimited-ride tickets (2,000 yen for adults) or sectional tickets (500 yen per section) are available, and are recommended when you want to visit other tourist spots in Minoh as well. The bus service between “Hankyu Minoh Station” and “Katsuo-ji” runs from 10:00 to 18:00, with approximately one service per hour. Some services are available only on Saturdays and Sundays, so it is recommended to check the timetable in advance.
For more information, please visit the Minoh City Tourist Association website.
② Take the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line from Umeda, Osaka. Get off at Senri-Chuo Station and board a Hankyu Bus bound for “Hokusetsu Reien” or “Kibogaoka 4-chome. Get off at the “Katsuo-ji” stop. (Buses run from 9:00 to 14:00, with approximately one service per hour on weekends and holidays, and approximately one service every two hours on weekdays.)
For more information, please visit the official Hankyu Bus website.
(2) By cab from the nearest station (about 45 minutes from Umeda, Osaka)
It takes about 20 minutes from “Minoh” on the Hankyu Railway Takarazuka line or “Senri-chuo” station (about 3,000 yen to 4,000 yen).
The time required may be longer during the season of autumn leaves and New Year’s visit to shrines due to traffic congestion, so please allow plenty of time for your trip.
Check out "Minoh Waterfall" together!
If you take the “Minoh Takimichi One-way Sightseeing Tour Bus”, be sure to stop by “Minoh National Park”. This natural park is home to approximately 980 varieties of plants and is also famous for its autumn foliage along with “Katsuo-ji”. The most popular attraction is “Minoh Waterfall”, which was selected as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan. Many tourists are overwhelmed by the powerful scenery of this 33-meter waterfall, which has been selected as one of the “100 Best Waterfalls in Japan”.
▼Check out this article too▼
Surrounded by nature, Katsuo-ji is a place where you can experience the changing of the seasons and the Japanese flavor. It is easily accessible from downtown Osaka, so why not add this temple to your Osaka sightseeing itinerary? Enjoy the wonderful scenery and experiences that await you in each season of your visit!