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The politician Shotoku Taishi is said to have been involved in 593 with the construction of the Shitenno-ji, Japan’s first “nation-approved” Buddhist temple. In the vast grounds of approximately 11 hectares (27 acres) stand a main hall, a five-storied pagoda and other buildings: it may even take you up to an entire day to fully appreciate them all. There are also many important cultural properties on site, with one of the highlights being the fact that Japan’s oldest architectural style is depicted in these buildings. This temple is always bustling with crowds due to morning markets and other frequently-held events.
- 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
- Contact No.
- 5-min walk from Exit 4, Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka Station on Osaka Municipal Subway
- Opening Hours / Holidays
- 8:30-16:30 (16:00 between October and March)
Open all year round
- Official Website
- Time Required
- 60 minutes
- Admission fee
- Free (300 yen entrance fee for main hall, 500 yen for treasure house, 300 yen for garden)
- Other Information
- *Wi-Fi available
※ Some information is displayed in Japanese and machine-translated English, which may not be accurate.
For the latest information, please check the official website for each spot.
When Shitenno-ji was built in 593, Shotoku Taishi, both royalty and a politician, worked as an aid to Empress Suiko who was reigning at the time. He sent envoys to the Sui Dynasty in an effort to import advanced continental Chinese culture and technology, and implemented various legislative systems as well as the constitution in order to establish a nation with the empress at the center. As a result of his ardent worship of Buddhism and his effort for its propagation and prosperity, he himself became an object of worship and it led to the production of many images of Taishi. He is said to have had the ability to hear and understand numerous persons speaking to him simultaneously and his countenance appeared on Japanese banknotes.
Three buildings are aligned in a straight line from the south gate and are surrounded by a connecting corridor, which is typical of the oldest architectural style in Japan. This style is said to have traveled from China and Korea. Shitenno-ji provides a valuable opportunity for you to see these magnificent architectural structures as they were in ancient times.
Visitors can climb the tower from within to the top level. Displayed also in the pagoda are a mural, a mortuary tablet used in the ceremony for the dead and a Busshari, a stupa to honor Buddha’s ashes. (*Under construction until June 2016.)
Enshrined in the front hall of Taishido, also known by the official name of “Shoryo-in,” are the statues of the 16-year-old Taishi and 2-year-old Taishi as well as Four Devas. Another statue of the 49-year-old Taishi is also present in the inner part of the hall, but it’s a treasured image unveiled to the public only once a year on January 22. On February 22, the anniversary of Shotoku Taishi’s death, an event is held for 2-year-olds to pay homage to Taishi. Prayers are offered for a healthy intellect to be bestowed on small children in the hall packed with families who brought them.
Many Important Cultural Properties
Shitenno-ji is known to have many important cultural properties including the “stone tori (a gateway arch to a temple/shrine),” one of Japan’s most famous three gates. “Rokuji-raisando,” literally translating to “Six times worship hall” and named so after six worshipping ceremonies conducted throughout the day and night, is one of Japan’s top three stages for ancient court music. A pond and a bridge in front of the hall add dignity to its appearance.
Daishi-e refers to a fair commemorating the death of Kukai, a Buddhist monk, and Taishi. It is held in the precincts on the 21st and 22nd of each month. There are as many as 500 stalls, selling everything from daily necessities and antiques to food, and there is always a great turnout of visitors.
Morning Market “Watsuka-ichi”
Held on the first Sunday each month in Saijyumon Square is a morning market with many stalls selling organic vegetables and additive-free food, as well as bread, handicrafts and secondhand goods. (Hours: 9:00-15:00)