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Kiyoshikōjin Seichōji is an ancient temple at which both Shintō and Buddhist beliefs are practiced. In the Kansai area, the temple is known affectionately as “Kōjin-san”—a name derived from Kōjin, the temple’s resident deity of fire and kitchens. Following its founding in 896, Emperor Uda gave the temple an honorific title indicating that it was “the premier shrine to Kōjin.” With Shintō and Buddhist structures standing side by side in harmony, this is a place that overflows with a special healing energy. The approach from Hankyu Kiyoshikōjin Station to the temple grounds is called Tatsu no Michi (“path of the dragon”). It’s filled with eateries, souvenir shops, and more. Why not pop in to some of these shops as you make your way up the winding path to the temple?
Two giant gingko trees, both believed to be more than 400 years old, greet you as you enter the sanmon (temple gate).
Once you’ve offered your prayers to Kōjin in the Tendō haiden (hall of worship), go behind this hall to the Kōjin-yōgō no Sakaki. Here, at this sakaki tree, visitors make monetary offerings in the hope that they’ll have better luck accumulating money. The custom is to take a coin that has been offered to the tree, wrap it in paper, and put it in your wallet. This is believed to improve your luck when it comes to money. But the next time you visit, don’t forget to offer double the amount you took the last time!
Kōjin-san is believed to bring safety to one’s family and success in business, while warding off evil and attracting good fortune. People who are in their yakudoshi (“unlucky years”) keep fire-tongs at home as good luck charms. These tongs are believed to magically pick up and dispose of bad luck. Once your “unlucky years” are over, you’re supposed to bring the tongs to the Hibashi-nōsho (fire-tong hall) some time after the following year’s Setsubun festival in February.
At the foot of the stone steps leading to the hondō (main hall) of Seichōji Temple stands the Ichigan Jizōson, a giant bronze statue of the Jizō (the Ksitigarbha bodhisattva). They say that if you make a wish while pouring a ladle of water on it, your wish will come true. Because this statue is so huge, you’ll have a hard time actually reaching the top of its head. So try not to splash water on the people around you!
In front of Seichōji’s main hall sits a statue of Binzuru-sonja, or Pindola Bharadvaja, a disciple of the Buddha that the locals call “Obinzuru-sama.” Some believe that rubbing the part of the statue corresponding to a sick or injured part of their own body will heal them of their malady.
Beyond the Tessai Museum, which houses works by painter Tomioka Tessai, is the Ryūōdaki waterfall. Engraved on the rock surface is a small statue of a guardian deity known as Fudō-myōō, or Acala.
Hotei is one of Japan’s popular Shichi-fukujin, or “Seven Deities of Good Fortune”. He’s considered a retainer to Kōjin and is enshrined at the Kenzokudō hall. You’ll also find him at the foot of the torii gate to the Kōjin shrine. Every year between December 23 and February 5, visitors can purchase clay Hotei dolls that come in seven different sizes. The rule is to start with the smallest doll, buy the next-largest one each year, and enshrine them all on your household’s miniature kamidana Shinto altar. If your kamidana is too small to fit multiple dolls, you’re allowed to replace an old one with a new one each year. If, before collecting all seven dolls, you suffer serious misfortune—for example, the loss of a family member—you must return the dolls to the shrine and start your collection anew the following year.
En-nichi refers to a day connected with a particular Shintō or Buddhist deity and the festival held to celebrate it. At Kōjin-san, en-nichi is celebrated on the 27th and 28th of the month. On regular weekdays, the path to the temple is rather quiet. But on en-nichi, lines of street stalls sprout up, selling food, drinks, games, and toys. In the temple parking lot, you’ll find one of Kansai’s more famous food stalls—one that crops up at festivals around the region. This stall serves akashiyaki, fluffy dumplings made from egg-rich batter and octopus. Unlike the similar takoyaki, which are covered in brown sauce, akashiyaki are served in a piping-hot dashi broth.
When you stroll along the path towards a temple in Japan, you’re bound to come across a number of delightful little shops selling snacks and light meals. Naturally, Kōjin-san is no exception. Along the 1.2 km road starting at Kiyoshikōjin Station and leading to the temple, you’ll discover a variety of shops serving sweets, noodles, set meals, and snacks such as takoyaki dumplings.