As the results of school and university entrance exams roll in, daruma dolls with two painted eyes are staring out from specially set up shelves at Katsuoji temple here.
Those eyes are confirmation that numerous wishes have come true. Katsuoji is worshipped as a temple that brings victory and good luck, and many students and their parents--or anyone wanting to win something--visit it to pay for a special prayer and a blank-eyed daruma doll.
Daruma doll worship is a unique Japanese tradition in which a worshipper offers a prayer to make a wish on the “sightless” doll and paints one eye in. If, and when, their wish comes true, the other eye is painted.
Monks at Katsuoji temple performed numerous prayers for the students from the end of last year. Every year around this time, the temple is flooded with returned daruma dolls bearing two painted eyes.
Custom dictates that the dolls should be returned to the temple after the wish is granted.
The backs of the dolls were painted with the names of schools and universities that their owners wanted to get into, and some also bear words of gratitude, showing how happy they were to win a place in the schools.