Projecting a strong image of delicious food such as takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and okonomiyaki (savory pancake), Osaka is known as the land of “kuidaore” (eat until you drop). Note, though, that this place is not just about food, as there are also many tourist spots here that will make you feel history. Below are 5 recommended famous sightseeing destinations in Osaka.
1. Shitennoji Temple
Official Name: Grand Head Temple Shitennoji Temple
Everyone in Japan knows Prince Shotoku, a politician who lived in the late 6th century to early 7th century. Shitennoji, the temple that he built in 593, is the first state-sponsored temple in the country. It is the head temple of the Washu sect that can be visited by anybody, regardless of religious denomination.
The layout of the main temple - wherein the Central Gate, Five-Story Pagoda, Kondo (Main Hall), and Lecture Hall are arranged in a straight line, and surrounded by a corridor - is one of the oldest architectural styles in Japan. Other must-see spots here are the Rokujiraisando hall that has been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan, the Garden (300 JPY entrance fee for adults), and the Treasure Hall (500 JPY). The 21st and 22nd of each month are this temple’s festival days, where the temple grounds are lined with nearly 300 stalls offering knickknacks, daily necessities, food, and other products.
Admission fee (Central Temple):
Adults: 300 JPY
University and high school students: 200 JPY
2. Kishiwada Castle
Kishiwada Castle had its fortress built and castle tower erected in 1585. It was originally a five-layered tower, but it burned down after being hit by lightning in 1827. The only structures from the pre-modern era that still remain today are the moat and stone walls. The castle has been rebuilt to the current three-layered and three-story castle tower, castle walls, and watchtower. You can find historic materials and artifacts related to the surrounding area on display inside.
You have to see the Hachijin no Niwa (Garden of 8 Battle Formations) that is visible from the castle tower. Built in 1953, it is known for its unique design that is not seen in traditional Japanese gardens. It is a dry landscape stroll garden where eight rock formations are arranged in a circle that can be properly admired from the sky.
Entrance fee (castle tower):
Adults: 300 JPY
3. Sumiyoshi Taisha
Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) is the head shrine of about 2,300 Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan that was built 1,800 years ago. This shrine is known for housing the deity of purification, safe voyage, farming, and industry.
The Sorihashi Bridge that’s in the form of a Taikobashi (arched bridge) is the iconic symbol of this shrine. Crossing this bridge signifies that you are purifying your sins and stains before approaching the deity. Its Honden (main sanctuary) that was built in the Sumiyoshi-zukuri style (oldest shrine architecture style in Japan) has been designated as a national treasure. The shrine is divided into four main halls, with the first to the third sanctuaries positioned in a straight line, while the fourth and third sanctuaries are placed side by side, resulting in a layout that is rare even in Japan. The Sumiyoshi torii (gate) that is designed with square pillars is another must-see spot here.
4. Nintoku Tenno-ryo Kofun (Daisen-ryo Kofun)
A kofun (tumulus) was created for aristocrats, powerful clans, and other high-ranking members of society from the 3rd century until the 7th century. While these tomb clusters can also be seen in China and Korea, there are apparently 200,000 of them in Japan, and Nintoku-tenno-ryo Kofun is the biggest one of them all.
Built in the middle of the 5th century, this tumulus is characterized by its shape that is unique to Japan, with the circle and square unified into the so-called Zenpo-koen-fun (large keyhole-shaped tomb) shape. The approximately 486m-long grave mound is one of the biggest tombs in the world, as it is bigger than the pyramid of Egypt’s King Khufu and the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor of China. The inside of this kofun is not open to the public, but you can see materials and artifacts - such as haniwa (terracotta clay figures) - that have been unearthed at the Sakai City Museum (100 JPY entrance fee for the general public to view the permanent exhibit), which is located inside the adjacent park.
5. Osaka Castle
Of course, one cannot forget about the ever popular sightseeing spot, Osaka Castle. It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a samurai who was active in the 16th century, after he brought the country under his rule. At the castle ruins, the main gate, watchtower, inner moat, and other castle structures still remain today. Another main attraction of this castle is getting to see the beauty of Japan’s largest stone wall.
The current castle tower has been restored, and inside, there are important historic materials and works of art on display. The view from the observation deck is also superb. The castle is lit up at night, so you will be able to see its magical appearance.
Adults: 600 JPY
This article showcased temples, shrines, castle, tombs, and many other historic spots. From the ancient times up to early modern times, there are spots from various eras in history. Try to visit them to catch a glimpse of Japan’s history!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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