Get off the beaten path in the ultramodern city of Osaka by touring its historical side. Pay a visit to these temples and shrines through the city, and you’ll be rewarded with a rich cultural experience often overlooked in Osaka.
Built in 1637, the small and serene Hozenji Temple in Dotonbori attracts relatively few visitors, making it an excellent refuge from the neon lights and crowds of nearby Shinsaibashi. Situated on a narrow lane lined with shops and cafes, the temple is dedicated to one of Buddhism’s five Wisdom Kings.
Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
Founded in the tenth century, Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the deity of scholarship. The shrine famously hosts the Tenjin Matsuri festival, one of the most popular festivals in Japan, where a likeness of the temple’s deity is paraded through the city.
Known for its strikingly modern entrance, Isshinji Temple has a history dating back to the 12th century when it was founded by the leader of the Pure Land Sect. Today, the Buddhist temple enshrines a statue of the Buddha constructed with human bones gifted to the temple by devotees since the late Edo period.
Many travelers may not realize that Osaka is home to one of Japan’s oldest shrines, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. Founded in the third century, the temple distinguishes itself as being one of only three shrines in the entire country with purely Japanese architecture, free of influence from the Asian mainland.
Shitenno-ji was believed to have been founded in the sixth century, making it one of Japan’s oldest temples of Buddhism. The temple’s stone torii dates back to 1294—the oldest of its kind in the country—and the temple grounds feature a main hall, five-floor pagoda, and a peaceful strolling garden.