Easily, one the most famous figures in Japanese history is the somewhat mysterious prince of legend, Shotoku. Responsible for spreading Buddhism in Japan Prince Shotoku also built the famous Horyu-ji and Shitenno-ji temples. Surprisingly, although he was born Tachibana Temple in Asuka, his grave is in Eifuku-ji [叡福寺] in the small town of Taishi, Osaka— which is pretty far away from Asuka. Built along the historic road, Takenouchi Kaido, Taishi is one of the most historic town in Osaka and not only has the grave of the prince Shotoku but also the graves of many rulers such as Suiko [用明天皇], Yomei [推古天皇], Bitatsu [敏達天皇], and Kotoku [孝徳天皇].
The History of Eifuku-ji
Before Eifuku-ji, Taishi was full of many Kofun for emperors and other imperial family members, including Prince Shotoku. Because of Shotoku status, in 724 C.E Empress Suiko ordered the construction of Eifuku-ji to protect his grave.
Naturally, the grave of such an important person in Japanese Buddhism attracted many monks throughout the history such as, Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect and Shinran, the founder of the Jodo-shin sect.
Unfortunately, because the Kawachi region where Eifukuji is located was the site of the main battle ground between Oda Nobunaga and the Miyoshi clan, Eifuku-ji burnt down in 1574. Consequentially, many of the buildings on the temple grounds today were built after the aforementioned fire.
Getting to Eifuku-ji
The closest station to Eifuku-ji is Kishi, off the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line. Take the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line from Abenobashi Station and take a Local or Semi-Express train bound for Kawachi-Nagano. Be careful not to take one of the trains for Kashiharajingu-mae or Yoshino.
From Kishi Station, take a bus to Eifuku-ji from bus stop 1 or 2 and get off at Taishi-mae. Eifuku-ji is right in front of the Taishi-mae bus stop.
The grave of Prince Shotoku is the central focus of the temple grounds of Eifuku-ji. You can find several buildings on the temple grounds, but unfortunately, many of them are not open to public.
The Grave of Prince Shotoku
The highlight of Eifuku-ji is the grave of Prince Shotoku.
One of the most interesting things you will notice about Shotoku’s grave right away is that it is not key shaped, nor does it have a moat like the Kofun in Sakai. This is because Prince Shotoku died in the early 7th century and the Kofun Period i.e. when large Kofun were common, was nearly over.
This grave contains the remains of not only Shotoku but also his mother, Anahobe no Hashihito no Himemiko, and his wife, Kashiwade no Oiratsume. However, it is worth pointing out that since Prince Shotoku is a member of the imperial family no one can ever enter it.
Important Temple Buildings
Inside the pagoda are statues of Shakasanzon [釈迦三尊像] and Dainichi Nyorai [大日如来]. Before the end of WWII, Eifuku-ji was a Shingon sect temple till WWII and afterwards, it became a non-denomination temple.
|Address||2146 Taishi, Minamikawachi-ku, |
Osaka Prefecture 583-0995
|Hours of Operation||Mon-Sun:|
|Admission Fee||(Treasure House)|
Adults: 200 yen
Prince Shotoku was undeniably one of Japan’s most influential people. Given the reputation of its neighbors, Kyoto and Nara, many people often forget that Osaka is also home to many famous people, sites, and historic treasures.
Coming next time, cat station master, Nitama!
The adventure continues…