To the undiscerning eye, the area around Osaka Station is your typical bustling business district. However, just ten minutes east from Osaka Station is Doyama-cho; the biggest gay district in Osaka. A few minutes south of Doyama-cho is Togano-cho, an area densely packed with night clubs and love hotels. Then smack in the middle of these two districts is one of the most historic temples in Osaka, Taiyu-ji Temple [太融寺].
The History of Taiyu-ji Temple
Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism and the Kongobu-ji Temple in Koyasan built Taiyu-ji in 821 C.E. Minamito no Tooru [源 融] later expanded the temple grounds. Because of his contribution to the temple the “yu” of “Taiyu-ji” [融], was specifically selected because it can alternately be read as “tooru”.
Despite being so old, little remains from the temple’s earliest days. Unfortunately, Taiyu-ji has been rebuilt twice: once after the Siege of Osaka, and then again after the bombings of WWII.
*FYI Minamito no Tooru was the inspiration for Hikaru Genji of Lady Murasaki’s The Tales of Genji.
Getting to Taiyu-ji Temple
As mentioned, Taiyu-ji is very close to Osaka Station and will take you about 15 minutes to get there. However, be sure to review your maps carefully. There are a lot of small roads around the temple and it might be disorienting if you are new to the city.
Taiyu-ji’s pagoda is very lovely, but the tall buildings around it can make it a little hard to see.
Inside of the pagoda, is a statue of the Bodisattva, Fudo Myouou. Supposedly, Fudo Myouou can make one of your dreams come true if you pray to him. Some people will even touch this statue while they pray.
Near the pagoda is a statue of Kukai, the original founder of the temple.
Taiyu-ji also has a large well groomed rock garden.
The Grave of Lady Yodo
Near the west side of the temple is a small bell tower. Behind this bell tower is the grave of Lady Yodo [淀殿], the second wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. She, long with Hideyoshi’s only son Hideyori, killed themselves at the end of the Siege of Osaka. After the siege, their bodies were buried in Seiryo-ji and Yodo-hime Shrine, respectively. Later, Yodo-hime Shrine was moved to Ikutama Shrine and the grave of Lady Yodo was moved to Taiyu-ji.
Doesn’t it seem strange that there is a tree in the middle of a main road not far from Taiyu-ji? Like many shrines and temples located in Osaka City, Taiyu-ji is much smaller than it originally was. The temple sold off part of its land to the city of Osaka, which planned to use the land for a road. To build the road, a tree once a part of Taiyu-ji needed to be cut down. However, when the construction crew began to cut the tree, strange things started to happen. One by one the workers, and even the construction management crew, either got sick or injured—some even died. It was as if they were being punished for attempting to remove the tree.
In the end, the tree was left alone and a small shrine was built around it.
|Address||Taiyuji-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Pref.
|Hours of Operation||Open from dawn to dusk 7 days a week|
Taiyu-ji is a true local’s temple and is definitely part of Osaka’s intricate history. It’s a great place to take a casual stroll and a welcomed change of pace from Umeda’s crowded busy streets. Stop by and take a look the next time you are in Umeda.
Coming next time,
The story of the man who built the Kinkaku-ji: Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu
The adventure continues…