Have a Peaceful and Quiet Visit! Five Select Temples and Shrines in Osaka

Osaka is famous for its amusement parks and food, but it also has many wonderful shrines and temples. Below are five recommended spots to visit.

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1. Sumiyoshi Taisha

This is a popular shrine that was founded about 1,800 years ago. It attracts more than 2 million worshipers annually for the Hatsumode (first shrine visit of the new year). It is the head shrine of all 2,300-plus Sumiyoshi Jinja (shrines) in Japan, and has been worshiped as a shrine for safe sea travel since ancient times. It has a unique structure, with a main shrine (National Treasure) that has been split into four, as if to represent a fleet of ships out on the ocean. It is full of spots that you can't miss, such as an unusual torii gate with four posts and the Omokaru-ishi, which you should pick up while making a wish. It is said that if it feels light, your wish will come true, and if it feels heavy, it won't.

1. Sumiyoshi Taisha

2. Iwafune Jinja-Shrine

This is a shrine dedicated to a giant rock (12m-high and 12m-wide) called “Ame no Iwafune”. Legend has it that this rock was the boat that the deity traveled on when he first came down to earth. There are also many large rocks on the grounds with engravings of Buddha. The shrine has long been famous as a training place for those practicing Shinto and Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism). It is also known for "gankutsu-meguri", which involves entering the rock caves below the giant rock.

2. Iwafune Jinja-Shrine

3. Shitennoji Temple

Founded in 593, this was the first full-scale Buddhist temple in Japan. It is said that Shotoku Taishi (574 - 622), a famous politician and thinker of the first half of the 7th century, built it to enshrine the Four Heavenly Kings of Buddhism. The configuration of the temple – with a corridor surrounding the middle gate, five-story pagoda, golden hall, and lecture hall, which are all lined up in a row – is one of Japan's oldest architectural styles. The grounds offer much to see, such as the Taishi-den dedicated to Shotoku Taishi and the beautiful Japanese garden, Gokuraku Jodo no Niwa. A ceremony in remembrance of Shotoku Taishi is held every year on April 22. The Tenno-ji Bugaku dance and music performed at the ceremony is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Asset of Japan.

4. Katsuo-ji

This is a historic temple that was built in 727. It is known as a temple that helps worshippers achieve victory, which explains why many famous warriors from the Sengoku Period were said to have worshipped here. The daruma doll is iconic to this temple, as it represents the Japanese saying of "fall over seven times, get up eight times" (keep trying and if you fail, pick yourself up till you succeed). The temple offers many daruma-related items, such as a daruma-shaped omikuji (fortune slip) (500 JPY) and a Kachi-daruma (3,500 JPY). The way a Kachi-daruma works is that you fill in one eye while praying for victory, and then the other eye when you actually achieve victory. You can find daruma with both eyes filled in that were offered to the temple at various places around its grounds.

5. Inunakisan Shipporyu-ji

This is a famous temple of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. It has a mysterious atmosphere, and is located halfway up a mountain. It is said that it was founded in 661, and its principal object of worship is a wooden statue, Kurikara Dairyu Fudomyo-o, which is worshiped as a deity that helps improve one's fortunes and makes wishes come true. This temple is also famous as a key training ground for worshipers of Japanese mountain asceticism (Shugendo). Mt. Inunaki, on which the temple stands, is famous for its fall foliage, and is a popular hiking destination.

Why not make a quiet and leisurely visit to shrines and temples that are located far from the hustle and bustle of the city?

*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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Writer: nakamura

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