At present, Osaka stands among the largest metropolitan areas of Japan, just second to Tokyo. It is best known for the many entertainment and shopping districts it houses but tourists looking for historical or cultural experiences should not be so quick to dismiss Osaka in their itineraries.
In fact, Osaka is home to countless monuments, shrines, and temples that even date back thousands of years ago. It even houses one of Japan’s oldest temples, the Shitennoji, which also stands as the very first temple to have ever been built by the local government.
Overview & Brief History of Shitennoji Buddhist Temple
The Shitennoji Temple dates back to the year 593 when it was built by Prince Shotoku, an important figure in Japanese history who was responsible for introducing the country to Buddhist concepts. Throughout the centuries, the temple has suffered from various damages, most of which were due to fires.
Each and every damage inflicted on the Shitennoji Temple was properly taken care of time after time by specialists who made sure to stick to the original design of the temple from the 6th century. At present, the Shitennoji Temple is as impressive as ever, if not more.
Sections of Shitennoji Temple – Honbo Garden, Treasure House, Etc.
Tourists are free to explore the outer areas of the Shitennoji Temple but are required to pay a corresponding fee to gain access to the temple’s treasure house, gardens, and inner precinct.
The inner precinct of the Shitennoji Temple features a courtyard covered in pebbles where a five-story pagoda stands tall. This pagoda may be entered and explored by visitors, as well as the Kondo (Main Hall) which is also located within the area.
A few meters away from the inner precinct, visitors will come across the temple’s gardens, i.e. the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and the Honbo Garden. Both gardens are designed to reflect Buddhist teachings, particularly Amida Buddha’s Western Paradise.
Last but not the least, the treasure house of the Shitennoji Temple houses various artifacts such as scriptures, paintings, and valuables that date back thousands of years ago. These items are arranged according to theme and allow visitors to get an overview of how Buddhism evolved throughout Japanese history.
Events at Shitennoji Temple – Shitennoji Wasso, Flea Market, Etc.
The Shitennoji Temple hosts various events all throughout the year, most of which have become Osaka’s most popular recurring activities. Tourists who want to get an authentic experience of Japan’s culture are advised to pay the temple grounds a visit when a festival, ceremony, or flea market is scheduled to occur.
Some of the best events hosted by or held at the Shitennoji Temple include:
The Shitennoji Wasso is among the most popular festivals of Osaka. It consists of a parade made up of over a thousand members of the community, all dressed in traditional Japanese clothing.
These people shout “wasso”, which is a Korean term that roughly translates to mean “I have come” in English, as they march through the streets of Osaka. The event pays tribute to the time when people from different parts of Asia came to Japan for a better life.
Other activities of the Shitennoji Wasso include drumming, dance performances, music, and a variety of traditional arts.
The Shitennoji Temple hosts a large flea market every 21st day of the month. Here, hundreds of local residents sell various items including antiquities, clothing, and household goods to visitors of the temple.
Doyadoya, or also known as shusho-e, is among the most important rituals held at the Shitennoji Temple. This is usually held on the 14th day of January and is done by young men wearing only headbands and loincloths.
The solemn ceremony requires the men to compete for banknotes right in front of the Shitennoji Temple’s main hall. As they struggle with each other, they have to repeatedly shout the expression “doyadoya”, while being poured and sprayed over with water.
More Information on Shitennoji Temple – Map & Access, Hours, Etc.
Given the convenient location of the Shitennoji Temple near the Tanimachi Subway Line’s Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station, tourists can easily access the temple grounds by taking a short walk away from the station’s exit.
Alternatively, tourists can also take a train on the JR Loop Line and get off at the JR Tennoji Station, which is just a 10-minute walk away from the Shitennoji Temple, by foot.
As previously mentioned, the outer areas of the Shitennoji Temple may be explored for free at any given time. As for the other sections, the following hours and admission fees should be observed:
Inner Precinct – open to the public from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (February – September) or from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM (October – March); an admission fee of 300 yen per person must be paid
Gardens – open to the public from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (February – September) or from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM (October – March); an admission fee of 300 yen per person must be paid
Treasure House – open to the public from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (February – September) or from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM (October – March); an admission fee of 500 yen per person must be paid
Other Tourist Attractions near Shitennoji Temple, Japan
Exploring the entirety of the Shitennoji Temple usually just takes a couple of hours. As such, tourists may want to consider checking out the nearby tourist attractions or districts listed in the guide below to maximize their trip to Osaka:
The Osaka Castle, or referred to as Osakajo by the locals, dates back to the year 1583 when it was built on the former site of the Honganji Temple. The construction of this castle was commissioned by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who wanted to use it as his central base for ruling a new and unified Japan. At the time, the Osaka Castle stood as the largest one of its kind in the entire country.
However, sometime after Toyotomi Hideyoshi passed away, troops of the Tokugawa launched an attack on the castle, ultimately destroying it and the lineage of the Toyotomi clan.
Tokugawa Hidetada then rebuilt the Osaka Castle during the 1620s. In 1665, the main tower of the castle again got destroyed, this time due to lightning.
The ferro-concrete castle known by many today was only built during the year 1931. Although the structure has survived various events throughout the decades, the castle tower has undergone some major repairs during the late 1990s to match the times.
At present, the castle tower now features a completely modern design for its interiors, even having its own elevator system for the convenience of visitors. The Osaka Castle also houses a museum where visitors can learn more about the history of the castle and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Other notable points of interest within the property include the Nishinomaru Garden that houses more than five hundred cherry trees, turrets, stone walls, moats, and secondary citadels.
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily; Closed from December 28 to January 1
Admission Fee: 600 yen per person (Access to the Castle Tower); 200 yen per person (Access to the Nishinomaru Garden); 350 yen per person (Access to the Nishinomaru Garden during cherry blossom season)
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 540-0002
Namba refers to the area that surrounds the Namba Station, particularly the Minami district. Minami, which literally translates to mean “south” in English, serves as Osaka’s most popular entertainment district and is home to a wide array of shopping and dining options.
It can easily be accessed through various subway lines or through the highway bus terminal, which makes it even more attractive to foreign travelers. Some of the must-visit places within the area include:
Amerikamura, or better known as Amemura by the locals, is a shopping complex that is often associated with Tokyo’s Harajuku, given its shared love for Japanese pop culture and teenage fashion trends.
Similarly, Amerikamura features quite a lively ambiance and is filled with various thrift stores, coffee shops, and interesting boutiques.
Hours: 10:30 AM – 6:00 PM, daily
Address: Nishi Shinsaibashi Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 542-0086
Den Den Town
Den Den Town can be found in the area of Nipponbashi. It is one of Osaka’s most popular electronics districts and competes against the likes of Tokyo’s Akihabara by offering consumers with relatively better deals.
Besides specializing in all things related to technology, the Den Den Town is also known for being a paradise for otakus, given its increasing number of anime and manga retailers. Several cosplay and maid cafes have also started popping up throughout the district in recent years.
Address: Nipponbashi, Naniwa-Ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 556-0005
Dotonbori is among the several streets of Japan that never actually close. Given its abundance of shops, entertainment centers, restaurants, and food stalls, Dotonbori is one of the best places for tourists to visit in Osaka, if not the best.
It is particularly stunning during the night, when the streets are illuminated by countless mechanized signs and neon lights.
Address: Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 542-0076
Namba Parks is an interesting architectural masterpiece that kind of looks like a natural canyon. The architect who designed it wanted to create a harmonious piece that would give the rather urban atmosphere of Osaka a pleasant break of nature.
Some of the facilities housed by the building include an amphitheater, a rooftop garden, a cinema, and a 120-tenant shopping center.
Hours: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM, daily
Address: 2 Nanbanaka Naniwa-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 556-0011
National Bunraku Theater
The National Bunraku Theater is regarded to be the most prestigious theater of its kind in all of Japan. The center hosts various bunraku performance throughout the year, most of which last for about three weeks during the months of November, August, July, June, April, and January.
Visitors can also get the chance to catch free seminars at the National Bunraku Theater on any given day of the year. Foreign travelers do not have to worry about the language barrier as there are English audio guides available at the theater.
Address: 1-12-10 Nippombashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 542-0073
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade refers to a 600-meter long street that houses a variety of trendy boutiques, chain retail stores, and luxurious designer brands, among other shops. It is regarded as the premier shopping center in all of Osaka.
Address: Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 542-0085
The Shochikuza Theater serves as the best place for tourists to catch kabuki shows in Osaka. It was built during the year 1923 and features a Western-style design. More than a thousand people can comfortably sit inside the Shochikuza Theater.
For the convenience of foreign visitors, the Shochikuza Theater offers English program books at the information counter for a corresponding fee.
Address: 1-9-19 Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan 542-0071
Osaka Mint Bureau
The Osaka Mint Bureau, which also goes by the name Zoheikyoku, serves as the main headquarters of Japan Mint, the agency in charge of supplying coins and medals, as well as of analyzing, testing, and certifying various metals.
Interestingly, the reason behind its increasing number of visitors every year is far from the purpose it upholds. Instead, what attracts hundreds and thousands of people to the Osaka Mint Bureau is more than 100 cherry tree varieties it houses, which typically bloom during the month of April.
As such, the Osaka Mint Bureau opens its cherry garden to the public for a 1-week long period every mid-April. The rest of the year, tourists are welcome to explore the Mint Museum of the property which features interesting facts about the coin production process and the history of Japanese coins.
Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:45 PM, daily; Closed on New Year Holidays
Admission Fee: No admission fee
Address: 1-5-2 Sonezaki Shinchi Kita-Ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Hotels near Shitennoji Temple, Japan
With the numerous tourist attractions and interesting districts offered by Osaka, renting out a room for the night is a no-brainer. In fact, it is even recommended that tourists stay at least three days in Osaka to be able to fully take in its rich history, culture, and lifestyle.
Fortunately, just as it houses countless must-visit places, the number of hotel, ryokan, and other lodging options it has is practically limitless. For those who want to stay a bit near the Shitennoji Temple, the following places should be kept in mind:
Hotels – Bureau Shitennoji Hotel, Waqoo Shitaderamachi, Hotel international House Osaka, Hotel Loire, Khaosan World Tennoji Hostel, Hotel & Resort Bali Tower Tennoji, Hotel 1-2-3 Tennoji, and Ave Tennoji Hotel
Ryokans – Yoshino Ryokan, Saikou, Yamatoya Honten Ryokan Osaka, Hotel Kuramoto, Kaneyoshi Ryokan, Imazato Ryokan, Ryotei Jyusouya, Gyokuzoin, and Kakimotoya
Hostels – Tennoji lagoon Hotel, Kintetsu Friendly Hostel Osaka Tennoji Park, and Kintetsu Friendly Hostel Osaka Tennoji Park