For over 1200 years the deities enshrined in the temples and shrines of Nara have served the religious needs of the Japanese people. Each of the various deities have their own special powers. Some specialise in love, some in health, and others offer benefits ranging from improved eyesight to success in business. Enshrined at ancient shrines and temples, they offer their followers the hope of finding fortune. Explore this world, and perhaps you’ll find some good luck of your own.
Receive Blessings and Benefits from the Gods
Long-lasting Love at Saidaiji Temple
Couples, spouses, and eligible singles come to Saidaiji Temple to ensure romantic success. The temple’s Aizendo Hall houses a statue carved in 1247 of Ragaraja—the Buddha of love, who holds a bow and arrow similar to Cupid. Ragaraja is believed to have the power to turn shallow feelings of lust and earthly desires into a deeper, more positive vibrancy for life. Note that the statue is only on display in the winter between 15th January and 3rd February and in the autumn between 25th October and 15th November.
A Stroke of Luck at Ohmiwa-jinja Shrine
Those in need of good luck should head to Ohmiwa-jinja Shrine. The central deity at the shrine is Omononushi. Centuries ago, Omononushi was said to have stopped a virulent plague that spread around the nation. Every month, the shrine celebrates the day of the rabbit by hosting a festival. There is a bronze statue of the rabbit at the shrine, and legend states that stroking the rabbit will give you good luck.
Nearby Sai-jinja Shrine offers visitors a different kind of benefit. The water in the well is thought to have healing powers, and many visit to take some of the water home with them.
Exorcise Misfortune at Okadera Temple
Okadera Temple was the first temple in Japan believed to drive away bad luck. This is a good enough reason to visit, but there are other advantages for visitors too as the temple is home to the Nyoirin Kannon Bosatsu, the Buddha of wish granting. This massive clay statue, built in the 8th century, is the largest Buddhist statue in the country and is considered one of the Three Great Buddha Statues alongside the bronze statue of the Great Buddha at Todaiji Temple and the wooden Eleven-faced Kannon Bosatsu at Hasedera Temple in Nara. Visit the three-story pagoda in the grounds of the temple which affords a great view of the surrounding Asuka area.
Protect your Vision at Tsubosaka-dera Temple
Visitors come to Tsubosaka-dera Temple hoping to improve their vision and eradicate eye diseases by receiving a blessing from the enshrined deity, the Senju Kannon, the Thousand-armed Buddha of Mercy. The reason the temple is associated with improved vision is based on a legendary tale involving a husband and wife. Early every morning, the wife prayed to Kannon to restore the eyesight of her blind husband. After the husband committed suicide, the wife killed herself too. The couple were brought back to life by Kannon, and the husband’s eyesight was restored.
Make a One-word Wish at Katsuragi Hitokotonushi-jinja Shrine
Katsuragi Hitokotonushi-jinja Shrine is home to the deity Ichigonsan. This god will listen to your wishes, but there’s a catch; he only hears single-word requests. Legend has it that the deity appeared in the 5th century when the Emperor went hunting in the area. In addition to this popular destination for those in search of good fortune, the adjacent Mt. Katsuragi boasts gorgeous azaleas in May, and the entire region is great for day hikes.
Boost your Business Luck at Hozanji Temple
The Buddha enshrined at Hozanji Temple is a god of prosperity, and many come here to pray for success in business. The statue—known as Kangiten—has the head of an elephant, similar to the Hindu god, Ganesh. It is not open for public viewing very often, but simply being close-by is said to bring financial benefits. Visitors to the temple complex rub their wallets on the large “treasure bag” carving in hope of improved finances.