Katsuoji Temple, Minō, and Fried Maple Leaves
My latest trip to Japan was meant to be my chance to see every out-of-the-way temple and point of interest using my beloved Kansai Thru Pass that I possibly could.
At the top of my list was Katsuoji, a temple located nearly equidistant from Osaka and Kyoto outside of a town called Minō. This is a temple dedicated to a Japanese traditional doll that has interested my all my life: The Daruma Doll.
The dolls signify a hope, dream, or goal, that you want to achieve and Katsuoji is absolutely covered in them. To get there without your own car, there is one bus from the Mino train station, and since, of course, I missed it by about a half an hour, I was able to explore Mino for two hours unexpectedly!
Strolling the main street as the souvenir shops started opening their doors, I noticed something strange. It seems like every town in Japan has some food that they're famous for, but I certainly wasn't expecting Mino's delicacy: Fried Japanese Maple Leaves. Yum!
After eating some incredibly greasy and touristy leaves, which you can watch here, I used the rest of my time wandering the surrounding area which was filled with waterfalls, and elusive monkeys!
Once my bus finally arrived, I hopped on and settled down for a short but stunning drive up to the top of a nearby mountain. There were about five other people on the bus with me, all heading to the temple.
Once we arrived we all headed to the main entrance, purchased a ticket (500yen) and headed into the temple grounds.
The temple was stunning, complete with a small fog machine that created an eerie mist over the lake at moments. It came as no surprise to the the temple was filled with photographers and cosplayers using the scenery as the perfect background for their cosplay shots.
They were all kind though, and were understanding and accommodating when I would step into their shot to get one of my own. They definitely shared the space :)
More plentiful than the cosplayers though were the daruma dolls. All shapes, sizes, and paint conditions were represented. Some were stuck on walls, some where being choked by vines, and others were basking in the sun by the lake.
They were everywhere.
You could purchase your own in the gift shop (for ridiculously cheap) and leave them anywhere you'd like on temple grounds for extra luck with whatever it is you're trying to achieve.
The most popular place for the dolls that had completed their dream of wish, was on a few large shelves that were absoltely mind blowing.
After wandering the rather expansive temple grounds for an hour or two, I decided to head back down towards the main gate and gift shop to grab a coffee and wait for my bus back to the train station.
What I ordered was a simple coffee, but the cookie was such a nice surprise!
If you visit, you're allowed to play with and move the daruma dolls, but obviously remember to be respectful :)
There are stairs to get the the upper levels of the temple, but the grounds around the lake as well as the cafe are all flat ground or ramps.
For more, see my video tour!