Right after having visited Minō Kōen, we went to Katsuō-ji (see the official website), a (Buddhist) temple called “The Temple of the winner’s luck”. Not very far from the park, but it takes some time to go there because of the winding road (mountains, and a very low speed limit: 30km/h). Once you’re there, you’ll be asked to pay 400円.
A bit of History
According to the brochure we were given, the temple is more than 1000 years old. It was erected in 765 by Prince Kaijō, a son of the Emperor Konin (770-781), with the help of two priests: Zenchu and Zensan. The temple was first called Mirokuji, and was later named after the miraculous recovery of the Emperor Seiwa: Katsu (win) ō (his Imperial Highness) ji (temple), meaning “the temple that triumphs over his Imperial Highness”.
In 1184 the temple was burnt down in a civil war, but was reconstructed by Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-1199), the first Minamoto Shogun.
You must be wondering what those little red guys are. They are called Daruma doll (達磨). Daruma would be the father of Zen Buddhism.
“Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement.” (Wikipedia)
End of the day, night is falling, they’ve turned the lights on:
The entrance (and exit) building with a souvenirs shop and some sort of cafeteria:
Byebye daruma-chan ^-^