10 Best Shrines and Temples to Visit in Osaka

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Writer’s profile

Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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Osaka, a city steeped in Japanese history and culture. Numerous shrines and temples adorn the city, enveloping visitors with their sacred air and beautiful architecture. Each spot has its own unique charm and history that will enrich your stay in Osaka. In this issue, we have carefully selected 10 of the best temples and shrines to visit.

1. Shitennoji Temple

With a deep history dating back to 593, Shitennoji Temple is notable as one of the oldest temples in Japan. The temple occupies an important position as Japan’s first official temple, and its historical value is widely known both in Japan and abroad. Over the years, Shitennoji has lost its imposing buildings to fire and other disasters on numerous occasions, but each time, out of deep respect for the temple’s faith and history, the buildings were faithfully recreated in the Asuka Period style of the temple’s original construction. As a result, the stately appearance of Shitennoji Temple conveys the dignity and prestige of ancient times, and offers an invitation to visitors to take a historical journey.

Official Website: Shitennoji Temple (Only in Japanese) 

2. Namba Yasaka Shrine

Namba Yasaka Shrine was once known as “Namba Shimo-no-Miya,” and as the guardian deity of the Namba area, it was widely worshiped and prospered. However, this temple has experienced its fair share of trials and tribulations; such as being hit by a military fire, and for a time entered a period of decline. After the war, Namba Yasaka Shrine was rebuilt and the current shrine building was constructed, bearing the historical weight and faith of its predecessors. The reconstructed shrine building, while inheriting its former prestige, has an atmosphere appropriate to the new era. Namba Yappo Shrine is also known for its “Shishiden” (lion hall), where a large lion stands with a unique presence. In particular, the lion dance, with its large open mouth, attracts visitors as a kind of photo spot.

Official Website: Namba Yasaka Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

3. Katsuoji Temple

Surrounded by beautiful nature in all four seasons, Katsuo-ji Temple is a special place for worshippers seeking victory. The champions of history such as the Minamoto, Ashikaga, and Toyotomi clans prayed for victory in battle, and their belief in winning luck has been passed down to the present day. The temple is filled with a sacred atmosphere and is visited by an endless stream of people praying for “victory luck” in all aspects of their lives, including examinations, business, employment, and sports. The vast precincts of Katsuo-ji Temple are magnificent, especially the cherry blossoms, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and autumn leaves, which can be seen in full bloom and offer a different kind of beauty in each season. The temple is a peaceful place where history and nature are in harmony, bestowing victorious and lucky energy on visitors.

Official Website: Katsuoji Temple

4. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Sumiyoshi Taisha boasts a prestigious presence as the head shrine of some 2,300 Sumiyoshi shrines throughout Japan. The shrine has long been worshiped as the god of safety of navigation, the god of purification, the god of agriculture, the god of waka poetry, the god of war, and the god of sumo wrestling; its history dating back some 1,800 years. The shrine is deeply loved not only by tourists but also by locals, who crowd the shrine during the Hatsumode season. A visit to Sumiyoshi Taisha is a special place to experience a sacred moment where history and faith intersect, and to pray for safety in navigation and life, a bountiful harvest and many other wishes.

Official Website: Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

5. Hozenji Temple

Hozenji Temple, which enshrines Fudo-myo-sama, stands a short distance from Dotonbori, Namba’s downtown area. The moss-covered statue of Fudo-myo-sama is enshrined in the temple grounds and is known to the locals as “Mizukake Fudo-sama”. The name “Mizukake Fudo-sama” is said to have originated when a visitor to the temple, not having an offering to offer, unintentionally poured water on the temple and laid his hands on it. Around the temple, the elegant stone-paved Hozenji Yokocho (Hozenji Alley) is a place where visitors can enjoy takoyaki and kushikatsu, which are representative of Osaka’s gourmet food scene. After visiting the temple, it is an enriching experience to enjoy the tastes of Osaka in this area where history and gourmet food merge.

Official Website: Hozenji Temple

jawp, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Abeno Shrine

Abeno Shrine is a historical site built on the site of an ancient battle with the Ashikaga forces and the grave of Lord Kitabatake Akiie, who died at the age of 21 in battle against Ashikaga Takauji while supporting the Emperor of the time. The temple grounds feature a thousand torii gates and many statues of foxes, each of which is draped with a red scarf. These foxes and red torii gates adorn the vermilion landscape that stretches 360 degrees, creating a magical and sacred atmosphere for visitors. Abeno Shrine is a place where history and beauty are in harmony, and the unique scarf-clad foxes are especially mysterious and impressive.

Official Website: Abeno Shrine

7. Isshinji Temple

Isshinji Temple was founded by Honen in 1185 as a temple of the Jodo sect (浄土宗). The temple played an important role in the study of Japanese history and served as the headquarters of Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Winter Battle of Osaka. Isshinji Temple is home to many bones from all over Japan, and the temple enshrines Kotsubutsu (骨仏), a Buddha statue of Amida Buddha, created from the remains. This is a sacred place where history and faith mingle, where the tradition of bone laying is alive and well, and where many people come to pay their respects. Isshinji Temple’s tranquil atmosphere and historical value make it a place that deeply impresses visitors.

Official Website: Isshinji Temple

Bob, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED, via Flickr

8. Toyokuni Shrine

Toyokuni Shrine is located between the inner and outer moats of Osaka Castle, specifically on the site of Ninomaru, and is dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Toyotomi Hideyori, and Toyotomi Hidenaga. These three shoguns were rulers of Japan in the Sengoku period, and as such, worshippers are said to receive blessings for success in life. There is a stone garden on the shrine grounds, and this is a very popular spot for visitors to appreciate wabi-sabi and the quiet beauty of Japanese culture. Toyokuni Shrine is a blend of history and beauty, and is a sacred and peaceful place for many worshippers who wish for success and prosperity.

Official Website: Toyokuni Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

Japanexperterna.se, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED, via Flickr

9. Okuninushi Shrine

Okuninushi Shrine in Osaka welcomes Susano-no-mikoto as its main deity and venerates the god of money, good fortune, and match-making. This shrine is positioned as part of the Osaka Seven Lucky Gods Tour. Of particular interest is the amulet “tane sen (種銭)” sold at the shrine. It is believed that putting this amulet in one’s wallet will increase one’s financial fortune, making it popular with many visitors to the shrine. As a place where faith and good fortune combine, Okuninushi Shrine brings happiness and prosperity to its visitors.

shankar s., CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr

10. Senkoji Temple

Senkoji Temple began with the enshrinement of Yakushi Nyorai by Prince Shotoku about 1,400 years ago, and has carved its history as one of the oldest wooden structures in Osaka Prefecture. It is a unique temple where visitors can see the two contrasting worlds of paradise and hell while living, and the temple grounds are like an amusement park where visitors can enjoy learning about the world of the Buddha. In the Jigokudo (Hell Hall), visitors can worship the images of oni (鬼) and Enma Daioh (閻魔大王) in a scary, haunted house-like atmosphere, and in the Gokurakudo (Paradise Hall), there are a number of Buddhist statues to be appreciated. Senko-ji Temple is known for its blend of history and entertainment that will amaze visitors.

Official Website: Senkoji (Only in Japanese) 

We have looked at 10 shrines and temples in Osaka, which one will you be visiting first? These shrines and temples have left their mark on the Osaka landscape. They invite the visitor to enjoy a moment of elegance as they feel the breath of history. A journey through Osaka’s sacred places offers a magical experience, seamlessly blending ancient civilizations with modern ones and showcasing a harmonious beauty. Each shrine and temple weaves a tale that embodies the blend of Japanese tradition and modernity, leaving visitors with unforgettable and inspiring memories. Make the end of your trip even more special by experiencing the charms of Japan through a sacred pilgrimage to Osaka that will remain in your heart!!

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Osaka

If you are planning on visiting Osaka and need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place! We would be more than happy to help make your trip the best it possibly could be. We can advise you on where to go, or even better, hook you up with a local English speaking guide that can show you all of the best spots. Let us help you make fun, safe, and unforgettable memories in Osaka!

Osaka Highlights Private Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Osaka, we will take you to Osaka’s highlights that include Osaka Castle, Kuromon Market, the popular Dotonbori area, etc. Learn about the rich history of the area, local lifestyle, and of course delicious Osaka food!

Osaka tour

Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto along with Osaka and are looking to learn more about the culture and local cuisine, this is definitely the perfect tour for you! Take part in this fun food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.

Kimono Experience

Kimono Rental
Explore the exciting city of Osaka with a kimono, Japanese traditional clothing. You can choose the one you like the most from several patterns and colors at the rental shop. In Osaka, it’s located at the center of the city, accessible from the main tourist attractions which makes it easy to try it on and explore the city for a day!

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