Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
July 11, 2004
The layout of the temple, which has remained unchanged since its founding, was highly reminiscent of temples I’d previously seen in Korea; a walled courtyard dominated by a five storey green and red pagoda which fronts the Main Hall. Dating back to the sixth century, Shitennoji Temple is reputed to be the first state sponsored Buddhist temple in the entire country. A 13th-century torri gate stands at the entrance, a sloping construction usually found in Shinto shrines, framing a curving temple building with upturned rectangular ends and a mountain peak shaped roof entrance. The torri gate is the oldest extant structure in the temple grounds, most of the original wooden structures having been rebuilt eight times, most recently with modern materials following their destruction in WWII.
The layout of the temple, which has remained unchanged since its founding, was highly reminiscent of temples I’d previously seen in Korea; a walled courtyard dominated by a five storey green and red pagoda which fronts the Main Hall. Round the back is a turtle pond overlooked by leaning pine trees, a shrine dotted with statues dressed in children’s clothes (apparently a plea for forgiveness from women who have had abortions), and outlying buildings across grounds of newly raked gravel, formed into perfectly straight lines that stretch for 50m between one wall and the next. Although it may pale in comparison to the more famous temples in nearby Kyoto and Nara, Shitennoji is undoubtedly the most impressive of its kind in Osaka.
Entrance to the temple grounds is free but there is a charge of 200 yen for the Treasure Hall. The easiest way to get to Shitennoji is by taking the underground to Shitennoji-mae station. Leave via the south exit, cross to the left side of the road, and take the small street that veers off at an angle away from the station. Alternatively, you could combine a visit to the temple with a trip to Tennoji Park by walking from Tennoji station, which takes about twenty minutes from the north exit.
From journal On Osaka