Shitennoji temple is not only one of the oldest temples in Japan but it is also the oldest state-administered temple. Often, Kansai tourists go straight to Kyoto to see picturesque and grand temples, but one should not hastily dismiss a visit to the Shitennoji temple. This temple has such great historical importance, being the first Buddhist temple constructed, thus sometimes referred to as the birthplace of Buddhism in Japan.
The main temple housed two very beautiful bronze Buddha statues with very detailed and intrinsic designs. I took a photo of one of the Buddha, got yelled at by a lady who was pointing at a “no photos” sign. I swore I didn’t see the sign, but it was definitely worth the embarrassment.
On our way to temple we walked along a Buddhist graveyard to reach the main temple grounds. Being non-Buddhist guests, it was also quite an experience to see various Buddhist statues and marble gravestones different from what I was accustomed to.
It would be nice to visit the place during temple day or on special holidays. There will be a lot of "(de)mise" or outdoor kiosks selling variety of street foods, toys, charms, and other novelty items. A trip to the Shitennoji temple brings you back to the roots of the country's religion.
I went with my family on a cool autumn day. We wanted someplace for our kids to roam around freely and for us to enjoy some beautiful scenery. We decided to go to the Gokuraku-jodo garden which is also within the vicinity of the temple grounds. It was a very lovely garden. It has a two small waterfalls flowing in a stream that cut across the garden. It also has small pond with a charming bridge across it. We were lucky to see egrets just lazing around the pond, making the scenery even more charming. A 300 yen entrance fee is required to enter the garden. My kids had a grand time chasing around pigeons all over the garden.
The Shitennoji garden is less than 10-minute walk from the Shitennoji –mae station on the Tannimachi subway Line.