Shitennoji Temple in Osaka is regarded as one of Japan’s oldest official temples and the first to be financially supported and constructed by the country. The Buddhist temple was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku and dedicated to the Shitenno, the four heavenly kings of Buddhism. The temple’s structures burned down multiple times throughout history, but were always accurately rebuilt, staying true to the original design.
Today, you can enter the outer temple grounds for free and admire the sacred buildings. To visit the Chushin Garan or inner-temple complex, Treasure House, and Gokurakujodo Garden, you will have to pay a small fee.
The Chushin Garan is home to Shitennoji’s most iconic buildings—the Kondo (Main Hall) and five-story pagoda. Both structures are truly mesmerizing with traditional vermillion coloring against white and green accents. Climb up the pagoda for a unique perspective of the temple grounds. Entrance to the Chushin Garan is 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for high school and college students, and free for children.
The Treasure House is an intriguing place for history lovers as it displays Buddhist scriptures, statues, paintings, and artifacts. Admission is 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for high school and college students, and free for children.
One of Shitennoji’s most tranquil areas is the Gokurakujodo Garden, which was modeled off the mythical Western Paradise of the Amida Buddha. The garden is characterized by ponds, rock waterfalls, cherry blossoms, and stone lanterns, creating a wonderful zen oasis in bustling Osaka. Unwind with a stroll along the water and enjoy the seasonal foliage. The area is also known for its abundance of basking turtles! The garden’s admission fee is 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for high school and college students, 200 yen for elementary and middle school students, and free for kindergarten students.
On January 14, Shitennoji celebrates the Doya Doya Festival. During this lively event, young men dressed in traditional undergarments run into the Rokujireisando prayer hall as they are doused with cold water and compete to grab the most paper charms, which are dropped from the ceiling.
If you are in the area on the 21st or 22nd of the month, be sure to stop by the temple for the Shitennoji Flea Market between 8:00 and 16:00. Peruse the roughly 300 stalls and enjoy delicious street foods such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki!
Shitennoji is about a 3-minute walk from Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka Station and a 10-minute walk from JR Tennoji Station.
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