Japan is never short of beautiful temples to visit. The land of the rising sun is home to thousands of historic temples, each with their own intriguing history. Katsuoji is one such temple.
Located north of Osaka City in the Mino region, Katsuoji temple is the perfect day trip to get away from the city’s urban landscape. It’s far away enough to feel like you’ve escaped into the country. It’s also close enough so that you don’t need to book an overnight stay.
Katsuoji temple is popular amongst locals as it is also known as the ‘temple of luck’ or ‘victorious luck’.
Many centuries ago, an emperor overcame his illness with the help of prayers at this particular temple. For many years onwards, this temple became known as “the temple that won out over a king”.
However, people eventually thought the name to be too presumptuous, and changed the character to ‘tail’ instead. This is because ‘king’ and ‘tail’ sound similar in the Japanese language. The name has stuck ever since!
Today, crowds of people head to this temple to pray and wish for good luck. Whether it’s for academic achievement, business success, upcoming competitions and hardships, or alike, a visit here would give people strength and encouragement.
What to see at Katsuoji Temple
One of the biggest reasons why people visit this temple is because of its grand collection of Japanese Daruma dolls. Daruma dolls traditionally represent good luck and perseverance, making them the perfect addition to this temple.
You will see massive displays of Daruma dolls around certain areas of the temple. It is believed that they attribute to the unique atmosphere of the temple, where people feel ‘enveloped’ in good energy when they step on the grounds.
Moving away from the obvious displays of the dolls, you will also notice them tucked away in little corners and displayed in less open areas as well. It’s a fun game to try and see how many you can spot along your trip around the temple grounds!
If you’re looking to purchase a Daruma doll or to bring on some good luck, definitely get one at Katsuoji temple. These little dolls are all hand-crafted and so each one has its own unique charm.
Here, you will have the option of the traditional bright red dolls as well as other bright newcomer colours. They will also be sold in various sizes as well. For travel purposes though, the small ones are the perfect choice!
Aside from the unique display of dolls, the structures at this temple are simply outstanding. The vermillion red torii gate and pagoda are stunning places to capture beautiful photos of historic Japan.
There is also a generous-sized bridge that overlooks a peaceful Koi pond that you can get lost in whilst gazing at it.
The temple itself sits on a hilly area so depending on where you trek to, you can get some stunning panoramic views of the temple grounds.
It will take only few minutes to get to the top so make sure to get there!
When to visit Katsuoji Temple
Katsuoji temple is beautiful and accessible throughout the entire year. Its location means that it is served by both public transport and car.
However, as it is close to the mountains, the absolute best time to visit this temple would be during the autumn period when the grounds experience koyo. When the grounds become awash with the autumn leaves, it is like something out of a magical fairy tale.
Imagine a bright vermillion red pagoda standing tall against a sea of green, reds and oranges. That’s the type of postcard perfect imagery you will see if you visit during autumn.
The peak period would be some time during late October to the beginning of December. Be warned though, this is the most popular period to visit the temple and thus you will definitely come across some epic crowds!
If you are planning to visit during this period, we recommend going early in the morning to make the most of the peace and quiet.
Outside of the autumn foliage period, the spring season is also a stunning time to visit the temple. You will be able to witness various types of cherry blossoms here, such as the hikan-zakura, shidare-zakura, yae-zakura, and yama-zakura. It’s a great temple area close to the city to witness the blossoms.
Throughout the year, you can also see the grounds covered in azaleas and alpine roses (late spring, early summer), as well as hydrangeas (mid-year).
How to get to Katsuoji Temple (from Osaka)
Whilst it is considered to be relatively close to Osaka City, it’s not in the most convenient location. We recommend getting a hire car to get there as it will allow you to come and go as you please.
If you do have a car, it will take less than an hour to drive from the city to the temple. Towards the end, the drive becomes quite scenic.
Use the indoor car park as the outdoor car park is generally reserved for minibuses and larger buses. The cost of the car park is 500 yen for the first hour, and 200 yen for every 30-minutes after that.
If you are looking at public transport, there are several options.
- From Mino Station, take a 15-minute taxi ride.
- From Senri-Chuo Station, take the Hankyu bus #29 and alight at Katsuoji temple. It will take 30-minutes.
- From Saito-nishi Station, take a 10-minute taxi ride.
Mino-o Park – Waterfall Hike
Because of its fairly inconvenient location, we recommend making a day-trip out of it and visiting the nearby Mino Park as well. This particular park is a popular place for people to immerse themselves into nature without having to travel too far out from the city. It’s home to the stunning 33-metre Mino-o waterfall and is one of the most Instagrammable spot in Osaka!
If you are keen, one of the best ways to experience both the waterfall and the temple is through the connecting hike.
Start off by catching the Hankyu Mino line to Mino Station. The entrance to the park is only 400m away. The scenic trek through Mino-o Park to the waterfall is roughly 2.5 kilometres long. Depending how quickly you walk, it should take just under an hour.
At the waterfall, there are benches where you can rest and take in the views as well as a little shop to purchase some refreshments.
Once you are ready to walk again, take the trail from the waterfall to Katsuoji temple. The trail is roughly 4 kilometres long and it will take approximately 45-minutes to reach the temple.
The trail itself is an easy one without any serious inclines so anyone can walk it. This is probably the most scenic way to experience Katsuoji temple!
Pro Tip: if you’re visiting during autumn, purchase a bag of Momiji tempura (maple leaf tempura) at the entrance of Mino-o park before you head in; it’s a Mino-o specialty!
We highly recommend including a visit to this temple (and waterfall!) into your Osaka itinerary.
We understand that there is an overwhelming number of activities to do and places to go in this wonderful city. However, taking a little break from your crazy schedule to immerse yourself in nature in Japan is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
The scenery is one that you can never find anywhere else. The serene atmosphere is irreplaceable. The unique Daruma dolls and grand structures of the temple will make for incredible captures of your trip.
And, of course, who doesn’t want an extra bit of luck in their lives?
Check this out if you are interested to do more day trips from Osaka.