Takarazuka is mostly known for the all-female, super cheesy musical group 'Takarazuka Revue'. Apart from that, the suburb of Osaka (located pretty much in between Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto) is maybe visited by some because of the Osamu Tezuka manga museum. 

But the town and surrounding area have a lot more to offer - there are various easy countryside walks, and also some magnificient temples, which are, unlike the big ones in Kyoto, free to visit.

Nakayama Dera is decicated to pregnancy, birth and children. When we visited on a Saturday, there were many pregnant women praying for a safe pregnancy, birth and healty baby, and many couples taking their babies on their first temple visit. Surprisingly (or maybe not, the Japanese aren't exactly orthodox), there were also some smaller shrines for school kids and university students to pray for their exams (not the most fool-proof method if you ask me), and some shrines for children lost to miscarriages. Parents place a jizo, a small humanoid sculpture with a bib around the shrine for each lost child. It took me a while to figure this out after seeing many of these in other temples and cemeteries. I always thought it's a little Buddha statue!

I'm not a religious person, and I think, neither are most Japanese. Yet I cannot get enough of visiting Japan's temples and shrines - each of them has its own history and purpose and searching out shrines off the beaten track (to this date, I haven't paid the entry fee to any of the famous temples in Kyoto - why pay for 3 of them, when you have a country with thousand free ones?) makes you learn and discover much more about Japan.

The temple is located a lovely walk uphill through a very traditional, yet absolutely un-touristy Japanese town (don't miss the ice cream stands!). 





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