Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku—a cultural hero who helped to bring Buddhism to the country—Shitenno-ji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. The complex includes a multi-tiered tower, pagoda, lecture hall, and gate. Though most of the current structures are from the 1963 rebuilding, they still reflect the 6th century design.
Shitenno-ji ranks as one of Osaka’s most important temples. That said, it features on many sightseeing tours of the city, which typically also cover Dotonbori, Osaka Castle, and Shinsekai. Experience the serenity of the temple grounds without the crowds on an early-morning city tour or soak up scenery along the way by visiting as part of a bike tour. Most temple and shrine-themed tours of Osaka include Shitenno-ji Temple on the itinerary.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Don’t forget to dress respectfully and keep your voice down, as this is an active place of worship.
- You’ll have to pay a separate admission fee for the temple buildings and the Japanese landscape garden.
- The temple is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
How to Get There
The temple is in the south of the city near Tenno-ji Park. The closest station is Shitennoji-mae on the Tanimachi Subway Line. You can also take the JR Loop Line to JR Tennoji Station and walk north for about 10 minutes.
When to Get There
The temple is open daily throughout the year, but try to visit when the nearby Gokuraku-jodo Garden is also open; hours vary, so check the calendar. If you’re in Osaka on the 21st of the month, head to the temple for its monthly flea market. Vendors set up shop early to sell antiques, souvenirs, handicrafts, cloth, and kimonos, many at very reasonable prices.
Buddhist Sites of Osaka
Shitenno-ji is one of the Thirteen Buddhist Sites of Osaka, a pilgrimage group of temples and shrines largely representing Shingon Buddhism. While most visitors are unlikely to make the entire pilgrimage, top temples include Shoren-ji and Taihei-ji Temple, which are both located in the Tennoji District—the same district of Osaka as Shitenno-ji.