A temple favored by the authorities
Emperor Seiwa visited Katsuo-ji, a temple that was well-liked by the authorities, and gave it its current name in the ninth century (850 - 881). The monks of the temple prayed, and Seiwa miraculously restored his health, so the story goes. He gave the temple permission to use the name Katsu-ji, which literally translates to "the temple that triumphs over the emperor," as a token of his thanks. However, the head of the temple chose to swap out the kanji for "king" for the kanji for "tail," which has the same sound as "king". Since the monarch should continue to be unbeatable, the substitution was meant to maintain hierarchy. Katsuo-ji cultivated close links with rulers throughout Japan's history, particularly the Minamoto and Toyotomi shogun regimes.
Step into the Daruma dolls' domain
The temple never lost power after its promising start, and its stellar reputation made it appealing to believers. So, it comes as no surprise when visiting Katsuo-ji that the temple's grounds are littered with hundreds of Daruma dolls. They serve as evidence of the temple's renown for its ability to grant desires of success and are comparable to an army of good tiny warriors. This ensures "the winner's luck" and "power over fate" for the happiest pilgrims.
Daruma dolls are customary Japanese good luck charms that feature Bodhidharma, the fabled monk who founded Zen Buddhism. They are typically made by temples in the form of a colorful, papier-mâché egg-shaped figure.
A colorful visit
All seasons are lovely for visits to Katsuo-ji:
End of April/early May is a good time for cherry trees to blossom late in the spring; summer brings beautiful violet and blue hues to the grounds thanks to the hydrangeas;
With the abundant maple trees turning red in the second half of November, autumn may be the ideal season;
Wintertime New Year celebrations feature rites performed by monks to the delight of the crowd.
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