While Kyoto is well known for its numerous Shinto shrines, Osaka is home to large Shinto shrines which played an important role in the history of Japan, too, some of which are known to certainly answer the prayers of the devout. Here are 5 Shinto shrines that you should definitely stop by if you are going sightseeing in Osaka.
1. "Sumiyoshi Taisha" shrine, one of the best power spots of Osaka
The "Sumiyoshi Taisha" shrine holds a high status as the main headquarters of the "Sumiyoshi Taisha", which has about 2,300 branch shrines all over the country, and it is so famous that it receives about 2 million visitors every year for "hatsumode" (the first visit to a shrine or temple of the year). It is said that it answers prayers for safety on the sea and during travels, for the wellbeing of households, and for the prosperity of businesses. The shrine grounds are a definitive must-see thanks to its amazing scenery and historical atmosphere, as they feature many designated cultural assets such as the Main Hall, built in a Japanese ancient architectural style known as "Sumiyoshi-zukuri," which has been designated as a National Treasure; the Soribashi (an arched bridge); and stone lanterns (where fire was lit for illumination). Here you will also find the "Goshogozen", which consists in a decorative fence around a sacred place where Sumiyoshi Taisha (a Shinto deity) is said to have descended. The ground of the "Goshogozen" is covered in cobblestones, and it is said that if you collect 3 of them with the characters for "五", "大", and "力" respectively on each of them, and use them as a talisman, your prayers will be answered. This is known as "Godairiki". You can also experience "Omokaru-ishi", which is a fortune-telling stone in which the weight of the stone will tell you whether your wishes will or not come true - make sure you give it a try!
2. "Namba Yasaka Jinja" shrine and its impressive Chinese lion dance stage
The exact date when the Namba Yasaka Jinja shrine was built is unclear, but this is a prestigious shrine that was already very well-known during the Heian period (794 - 1192), and it has been considered to be the guardian deity of the Namba area since ancient times. The Chinese lion dance stage, which was built in 1974 and measures 12 meters high and 7 meters deep, uses the eyes of the lion as lights and the nose as speakers, and it is really impacting to look at from a close distance! It is also very famous as a photographic spot. This lion receives visits from all over Japan, as it is known to swallow malice with its full mouth, and to improve academic grades, helping to succeed in job hunting and exams, and to prosper in society. We recommend going to visit it on a weekday, when it is not very crowded.
3. "Horikoshi Jinja", the shrine that makes your dearest wish come true
The "Horikoshi Jinja" shrine was built by Prince Shotoku to remember his uncle Emperor Sushun in 593, at the same time as the Shitennnoji Temple, and it is one of the seven shrines Prince Shotoku established to guard the Shitennoji Temple. Since ancient times, this shrine in Osaka has been known to make "your life's dearest wish come true", and it receives an incessant flow of visitors from all over Japan. If you are especially serious about your wish, we recommend attending a special prayer called "Hitoyume Kigan" (ceremony fees are 3,000 JPY) for which you will need to make an appointment in advance. In addition, the temple grounds offer plenty of greenery and a calm atmosphere where you can even find sacred trees (trees that are considered to house a deity) of 550 years of age. It is said that if you are feeling emotionally or physically down, touching one of these trees and praying fervently will help you recover. We recommend giving it a try!
4. "Hochigai Jinja", the shrine that protects you from all misfortune
"Hochigai Jinja" shrine, established in the year 90 B.C. to pray for the cure of illnesses, is said to offer protection against land and house-related calamities. "Onmyodo", a type of fortune-telling that has existed in Japan since ancient times, is based on the theory that the direction of a place that one is heading towards to has an influence in whether luck will be good or bad. If the direction was unlucky, it was therefore customary to do "katatagae", which means going to a different place before setting out towards the final destination, in order to change the direction. "Hochigai Jinja", which was located in between Settsu, Kawachi, and Izumi, was considered to be a pure place with no direction of its own, so it offered the same benefits as doing "Katatagae" and, as a result, it receives visits from people from all over Japan who are changing jobs, moving to a different location, or traveling. This is a shrine you should definitely visit during your trip!
5. "Iwafune Jinja" shrine, a boat that fell from the Heavens
The "Iwafune Jinja" is located a little far from the center of Osaka, and it is housed in a boat-shaped large rock 12 meters high and 12 meters deep which is considered to enshrine the "Amenoiwa-fune". It is said to be a guardian deity of the area, and to offer prosperity of descendants and safety in traffic and journeys by air. The shrine has a long history as the deities of Japanese mythology are said to have descended from the Heavens in a boat, and this rock is considered to be the "Amenoiwa-fune", the boat in which the gods came, so the area is considered sacred since ancient times. The caves, which are open to the general public, are a must-see, and they can be toured in groups of at least 2 people (in order to prevent accidents). After passing through the caves, visitors can see the Gate of the Celestial Rock Cave, behind which Amaterasu Oomikami (the Sun Goddess) is said to have locked herself. It is said that touring the caves can be considered as a kind of ascetic practice, as the rocks that create the caves have been left as they were in the past and the path is really hard to walk on. We recommend getting well prepared in advance.
Did you enjoy the article? Osaka is famous for offering many sightseeing destinations, but not many know the fact that the city is home to over 700 Shinto shrines. If you are visiting Osaka, go ahead and pay a visit to the shrines mentioned above to have your prayers answered!
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information