Shitennoji and Isshinji, two Buddhist temples in Osaka

Shitennoji and Isshinji temples are located in the Tennoji district of the Japanese city of Osaka. They are two Buddhist temples, but the differences between the two cannot be greater. Therefore, our recommendation is to visit both in the same morning. So you can appreciate their differences and the personality of each of them.

Shitennoji Temple, among the oldest in Japan

The Shitennoji temple is not only one of the oldest in Japan, at least as far as the Buddhist religion is concerned. Also, It is the first of that religion that was built with the impulse of the emperor.

And it is that this temple of Shitennoji dates from the 6th century and it was a work promoted by Prince Shotoku Taishi. In this way, Buddhism was given an official character.

Shitennoji Temple Tour

Shitennoji Temple

As is customary in many other Japanese temples, buildings have suffered attacks, fires and destruction over the years. And even more so those that are as old as this Shitennoji temple, which has more than 1400 years of history.

Nevertheless, after each of these destructions they rise again. And it is done scrupulously following its original appearance. That is part of the spiritual magic of this country.

In this way, the sacred precinct of the Shitennoji temple maintains the original structure. In it, the main buildings are a first pavilion called Kodo, a second called Kondo and a five-story pagoda. This, as a singular fact in the case of this temple, can be visited.

This pagoda is supposed to have served to safeguard relics of Buddha that have been lost. Actually, Buddha is omnipresent in the entire Shitennoji complex. In the Kodo we see it in the form of sculptures. Meanwhile, in the Kondo we are told about his life through mural paintings.

The garden

Temple Gardens – Myth Huang /

The tour of the Shitennoji temple ends at its garden area, Jodo-Gokuraku. It’s a little paradise in the Osaka metropolis. A pond with lotus flowers, a stone garden, the ocher tones of the arches or the cherry trees that mark the beginning of spring with their flowering, the famous sakura.

Anyway, It is a delicacy that must be savored calmly and also with respect, since we are in a sacred space, one of the first Buddhist temples in Japan. In fact, the prince who promoted its construction ended up canonized for this work of establishing this religion in the country.

The Isshinji temple, much more modern

All the aura of antiquity and legend that is breathed in the Shitennoji temple becomes modernity in the Isshinji temple. Something that is already noticeable in the main access door. And, while it is true that this sanctuary originated in the 12th century, the truth is that the most interesting of the enclosure takes us back to much closer times.

sculptures of human remains

Isshin-ji Temple

The most characteristic of the temple are its 14 Buddha sculptures made with the remains of deceased Buddhists. Now we explain it. It is said that it was always a place where the remains of the faithful were taken, but that in the mid-19th century a famous local actor was buried in this place.

After that, many other people wanted to rest here forever. And it ended up creating a major space problem. So a solution was sought. The thousands of urns with human remains they were used in the form of ash and resin to create a statue of Buddha.

That is the origin of Okotsubutsu of this temple. As we say, there are currently 14, since a statue is made every 10 years. For this, the ashes of more than 150,000 people are used.

A most relaxing experience in Osaka

As we say, spending a morning to go to the Tennoji district and visit the Shitennoji and Isshinji temples is a highly recommended activity during a trip to Osaka. It is a magnificent opportunity to learn part of the history of this town and also its spirituality and its most ancient traditions.

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