When visiting Osaka, the first things come to mind are a visit to the famous Osaka Castle, Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Aquarium and the Umeda Sky Building. However, Osaka has much to offer and one can easily spend a nice couple of days exploring the different parts of Osaka and still feel like you have not seen it all.
In this article, I’d like to introduce one other sight which isn’t included on most must-see lists, but is definitely worth checking out and is only a few minutes walk from Namba Station:
NAMBA YASAKA SHRINE
Namba area, sometimes also referred to as Minami District, is the home to many of the famous sites of Osaka. These sites included the Dotonbori where you can find the famous Glico Sign and get one of the best Takoyaki in Japan or you can find the famous Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. Also the Namba Parks are a huge shopping arcade which shouldn’t be missed.
However, around 5 minutes from the famous Namba Park, and therefore is a nice place to get a lunch or to unwind from the busy Namba Station, there is the Namba Yasaka Shrine.
This temple is famous from it’s lion-shaped stage, which is a one of a kind in Japan and was built in 1975. The lion shaped head (Ema-den) is 12 meters high and is 11 meters wide.
The shape of the lion is chosen, because it is believed the huge open mouth of the lion will swallow the evil spirits and bring good luck to those in school or in business. Therefore, this temple is popular with students and businessmen.
Besides the stage, there is a white shrine on the right side of the stage and a building where the monks sell their charms. This shrine itself isn’t very big, but the giant Lion’s head is great checking out when you have a temple fatigue in Japan and after taking a nice shot with the Lion’s head you can head back to Namba Station.
(I spend around 30 minutes there shooting pictures and exploring the temple)
During the day, the shrine is mostly pretty quiet, with not a lot of tourists knowing about this shrine. However, in spring, during cherry blossom season, the shrine might be a little more busy, since the shrine has some nice cherry trees.
The annual festival, held on the 3rd Sunday of January is held celebrating the myth that the god of the temple name Susano-ono-Mikoto, once killed a giant snake called Yamato-no-orochi. Because of this, a giant Tug-of-War competition is held during the festival.
Opening hours: 6:00-17:00
How to get there: 5 minute walk from Namba Station
Address: 〒556-0016 2-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka City
Lion is the oldest and most famous of the meiyoku kissatens of Tokyo. The cafe opened in 1926 but was destroyed during World War II. However, it was completely rebuilt in 1950. This beautiful cafe takes you back in time to the Showa era of Japan, with beautiful velvet seating and antique furnishings that juxtapose the array of salarymen quietly tapping away on their laptops.
Photos found on Foursquare