Hozen-ji Temple, Osaka’s Not So Hidden Temple

Osaka city is home to many shrines and temples, many of which are steeped in history. However, due to Osaka’s reputation as a financial and gastronomic mecca, these historic places are often overlooked. Hozen-ji Temple on the other hand, which is very close to Namba Station, is not only popular with native Osakans, but also the millions of tourists that visit Osaka every year.

 

The History of Hozen-ji Temple

Hozen-ji Temple was built during the Edo Period in 1637. This makes it a relatively new temple, considering that a number of temples and shrines in Osaka are more than a thousand years old. Despite its newness, this temple has still been influential on the city. One of Hozen-ji temple’s ceremonies called Sennichi-Mairi is the namesake of one of Osaka’s biggest streets, Sennichi-mae Street.

Unfortunately, WWII destroyed most of the temple. Today, only Konpira-do and the Mizukake Fudo Myoo [水かけ不動], also called the Statue of Acala, are all that remain of the original temple.

 

Getting to Hozen-ji Temple

There are several ways to get to Hozen-ji Temple; either from Sennichi-mae Shopping Street or Ebisubashi Shopping Street. Both shopping streets are very big but the path to Hozen-ji may not be that obvious.

There are two streets near Hozen-ji that run parallel to each other. One very straight street is Hozen-ji Yokocho, where you can find many tasty restaurants. The other curved street is Hozenji-Sando, which actually leads you to Hozen-ji Temple.

If you are on Dotonbori, you could take a little street called Ukiyo Komichi as a shortcut to Hozen-ji. This alley is right next to a restaurant called Imai’s, and it’s very small, so be vigilant.

narrow and dimly lit alley ukiyo komichi
Ukiyo Komichi.

Temple Grounds

It is hard to believe, but this is Hozen-ji Temple.

Hozen-ji Temple in Osaka Japan
Temple grounds

Hozen-ji’s most iconic feature is the Mizukake Fudo. This fudo has been splashed with water so frequently by the visitors of Hozen-ji that a thick layer of moss has grown over it. Be sure to splash all three of them!

famous moss covered Mizukake Fudo of Hozen-ji Temple
Mizukake Fudo is very popular but the temple is dedicated to Amida Nyorai
kinpira-do at Hozen-ji Temple
Konpira-do

Since this area is has a number of popular bars, and Hozen-ji Temple does not have a gate, and many people visit this temple at night!

Hozen-ji temple lit up at night
Hozen-ji at night.
Meoto Zenzai store front at night near Hozen-ji
Meoto Zenzai

After you finish your visit to Hozen-ji, be sure to visit any number of the famous restaurants nearby, such as “Meoto Zenzai” and “Shoben Tango Tei”, which here both written about in novels by Oda Sakunosuke.

Hozen-ji Yokocho

The light and restaurants of Hozen-ji Yokocho

Hozen-ji Yokocho Street is just as popular as the temple itself. The temple grounds of Hozen-ji used to occupy most of Hozen-ji Yokocho, but over the years restaurants and shops have slowly taken over.

West entrance to Hozen-ji Yokocho at night
The west side gate of Hozen-ji Yokocho.

One of Osaka’s all time best comedian/actors, Fujiyama Kanbi [藤山寛美], provided the calligraphy for the sign for the west gate of Hozen-ji.  Interestingly, the kanji of [善] meaning “good” is  incorrect. Many speculate that Kanbi did this intentionally, rather than it being the result of a simple mistake. Renowned for being an unabashed playboy who was very frivolous with money, and therefore the very opposite of [善].

Former Execution Square

The district Hozen-ji occupies used to be filled with temples! Sadly, as times and the city changed, the temples gradually disappeared. Hozen-ji is the only surviving temple from this period and even it is a fraction of its original size. Interestingly, in the middle of these temples stood something rather morbid: an execution square. The execution site also housed a graveyard for the people sentenced to die there. However, this too disappeared with time.

former execution site for criminals near Namba Station
Please remember that this is a private graveyard! Unfortunately, you can’t just go in and explore.

Today, though the area is now technically a temple, but it primarily functions a private graveyard. The graves for the prisoners have also been moved, or changed, but there are still a few graves located near the back of the graveyard.

 

Hozen-ji Temple

Address 1-2-16 Namba, Chuo-kuOsaka City, Osaka Prefecture,
〒542-0076
Website http://houzenji.jp/
Admission Free
Hours of Operation Open 365 days a year.
No formal closing time.

Hozen-ji Temple is a real delight, especially for people who are new to Osaka. It’s a really fun and convenient little temple that feels like you stumbled on your own little secret every time you go. Hozen-ji serves as a great reminder to just get out and wander around. You never know what you might find!

Coming next time,
Historic Taiyu-ji Temple

The adventure continues…

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