Shitennoji Temple Osaka

Shitennoji Temple

Shitennoji Temple is one of Japan’s oldest and most significant temples, with a history that dates back over 1,400 years. Located in the heart of Osaka, the temple is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, Shitennoji Temple is the first ever temple to be built by the state and is a major landmark in Japanese history. The temple was built in honor of the Four Heavenly Kings, who are believed to protect the world from evil and bring peace and prosperity to all who visit.

Shitennoji Temple Osaka

Today, Shitennoji Temple remains an important center for Buddhist worship and is home to a number of important relics and artifacts. Visitors can explore the temple’s beautiful grounds, admire its stunning architecture, and learn more about Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Key Takeaways

  • One of Japan’s oldest temples, with a history that dates back over 1,400 years.
  • Founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku and is the first ever temple to be built by the state.
  • An important center for Buddhist worship and is home to a number of important relics.


Shitennoji Temple Osaka

Shitennoji Temple is one of the oldest temples in Japan, founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who supported the introduction of Buddhism into Japan. It is sometimes regarded as the first Buddhist and oldest officially-administered temple in Japan, although the temple complex and buildings have been rebuilt over the centuries, with the last reconstruction taking place in 1963.

Shitennoji Temple was built on land that had been taken from the enemy clan, making it the first official temple built on an imperial initiative and granting Buddhism the status of state religion. The temple played an important role in the spread of Buddhism in Japan and was the center of religious and cultural activities.

Throughout its history, Shitennoji Temple has been destroyed by fires and rebuilt several times. Despite the many reconstructions, the temple still retains its original design and layout. The temple complex consists of several buildings, including the Main Hall, Lecture Hall, and Five-Story Pagoda, which are all designated as Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government.

Today, Shitennoji Temple continues to be an important religious and cultural site, attracting visitors from all over Japan and the world. The temple hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Shitennoji Flea Market, which is held on the 21st and 22nd of each month and is one of the largest flea markets in Japan.

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Shitennoji Temple Osaka

Shitennoji Temple is a magnificent example of Buddhist architecture. The temple complex has been rebuilt several times over the centuries, but the basic layout has remained the same. The temple is built in the style of a garan, which is a traditional Japanese temple layout. All of the buildings in the garan are arranged in a straight line, with a corridor surrounding them.

The most iconic building in the temple complex is the 5-tier pagoda, which is visible from all around the temple grounds. The pagoda is a beautiful example of traditional Japanese architecture, with its elegant curves and intricate details. Visitors can climb to the top of the pagoda for a stunning view of the temple complex and the surrounding area.

The other buildings in the temple complex include the Main Hall, the Lecture Hall, and the Gokuraku-jodo Garden. The Main Hall is the largest building in the temple complex and houses a statue of the Buddha. The Lecture Hall is used for religious ceremonies and events, and the Gokuraku-jodo Garden is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the temple complex.

The architecture of Shitennoji Temple is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the ancient Japanese builders. The temple complex is a must-see for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history.


Shitennoji Temple is known for its unique and innovative architectural design. The temple’s layout-style is called Shitennoji Style Temple Building Layout, which is one of Japan’s oldest architectural styles. The layout is characterized by a straight line of buildings surrounded by a corridor.

The main buildings of the temple are distributed in one straight line, including the Nakamon gate, the five-storied pagoda, the Kondo (main hall), and the Kodo hall. The corridor surrounding the buildings creates a peaceful and serene atmosphere, adding to the overall beauty of the temple.

Another notable feature of the temple’s layout is the placement of the buildings in relation to each other. The five-storied pagoda is located at the front of the temple, followed by the Kondo (main hall), and then the Kodo hall. This placement is intentional and reflects the innovative concepts of Buddhist architecture.

The temple’s layout is not only aesthetically pleasing but also has a symbolic meaning. The placement of the buildings in a straight line represents the path to enlightenment, while the corridor surrounding the buildings represents the journey towards enlightenment.

Main Hall

The Main Hall, also known as Kondo, is the most iconic building in Shitennoji Temple. It was built in the 1960s and is a reconstruction of the original 6th-century structure. The hall houses a statue of Prince Shotoku, who founded the temple in 593 and is considered the father of Japanese Buddhism.

The Main Hall’s interior is adorned with intricate carvings and paintings depicting Buddhist deities and scenes from Buddhist texts. Visitors can also see the hall’s wooden pillars, which have been preserved from the original structure.

The Main Hall is an important site for Buddhist ceremonies and rituals. Visitors are welcome to observe these ceremonies, but should be respectful of the practitioners and the sacred space.

Adjacent to the Main Hall is the Five-Story Pagoda, which was also reconstructed in the 1960s. The pagoda is a symbol of Japanese Buddhism and represents the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and space) in Buddhist cosmology.

Gokuraku-jodo Garden

One of the most beautiful and serene spots in the Shitennoji Temple complex is the Gokuraku-jodo Garden. This garden is a representation of Amida’s Pure Land known as Gokuraku Jodo and Kannon’s Fudaraku. It is built around two large ponds connected by a meandering stream. The water comes from two small artificial waterfalls.

The garden features a charming wooden bridge that crosses over one of the ponds, offering visitors stunning views of the garden’s flora and fauna. The pond is home to a variety of fish, including colorful koi, which add to the garden’s peaceful ambiance.

Visitors can enjoy the garden’s beauty while walking along the paths that wind through the garden. The paths are lined with trees, shrubs, and flowers that change with the seasons, making each visit to the garden a unique experience.

As visitors walk through the garden, they can also appreciate the intricate design of the garden’s elements, including the placement of rocks, trees, and other natural features. The garden’s design is meant to evoke a sense of tranquility, and it certainly succeeds in doing so.


The Shitennoji Temple is home to many treasures, some of which are considered national treasures of Japan. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Shitennoji Treasure Hall: This hall houses many important artifacts, including a statue of Prince Shotoku, who founded the temple, and a set of 12 bronze mirrors that date back to the 7th century. These mirrors are considered national treasures of Japan.
  • Treasure Pagoda: This pagoda contains many important Buddhist scriptures and is considered a national treasure of Japan.
  • Inner Temple Complex: The inner temple complex contains many important buildings, including the Main Hall, Lecture Hall, and Bell Tower. These buildings are considered important cultural properties of Japan.

Visitors can view these treasures during their visit to the Shitennoji Temple. However, some areas may require an additional admission fee.

It is important to note that visitors should be respectful of the temple and its treasures. Photography is not allowed in some areas, and visitors should refrain from touching any of the artifacts or buildings.

Festivals and Events

Shitennoji Temple is known for hosting several festivals and events throughout the year. These events offer a unique opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture and customs.

The temple hosts two special events at the beginning of the Spring and Autumn equinox each year. During these events, visitors can participate in special ceremonies and rituals to welcome the changing of the seasons.

Additionally, on the 21st and 22nd of each month, there is a Daishi-e festival held at the temple. These festivals are dedicated to Kobo Daishi and Shotoku Taishi, two important figures in Japanese Buddhism. Visitors can witness traditional Buddhist rituals and ceremonies during these events.

Another popular event at Shitennoji Temple is the Wasso Festival, which takes place in early November. This festival celebrates the harvest season and features a variety of performances, including traditional music, dance, and theater. Visitors can also enjoy food and drink vendors, as well as various games and activities.

Finally, during the Tanabata Star Festival in July, the temple is decorated with colorful bamboo decorations and visitors can write their wishes on small pieces of paper and hang them on the bamboo trees. The festival also features traditional Japanese music and dance performances.

Visitor Information

Shitennoji Temple is a popular tourist destination in Osaka, Japan, and attracts visitors from around the world. Here are some important details to keep in mind if you are planning to visit:

Hours of Operation

The temple is open to visitors every day of the week, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. However, the hours may be subject to change during special events or holidays, so it is best to check the official website or call ahead to confirm the hours of operation.

Admission Fees

There is a small admission fee to enter the temple grounds, which is ¥300 for adults and ¥200 for children. Visitors can also purchase a combination ticket that includes admission to the Gokuraku-jodo Garden for ¥500.

Guided Tours

Guided tours of the temple are available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can provide insight into the history and significance of the temple. The tours are free, but reservations are required and can be made in advance on the temple’s website.


The temple grounds are wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators available to navigate the different levels of the temple. However, some areas of the temple may be difficult to access due to steep stairs or narrow pathways.


Visitors are expected to show respect and observe proper etiquette when visiting the temple. This includes removing shoes before entering certain areas, refraining from taking photographs in sacred areas, and refraining from loud or disruptive behavior. Visitors are also asked to dress modestly and cover their shoulders and legs when entering the temple.