The Lion of Namba: Namba Yasaka Shrine

Namba is home to a number of famous shrines, but one of the most popular is definitely Namba Yasaka Shrine [難波八阪神社]. Though not as old as some other shrines in Osaka such as Kouzu or Ikutama Shrine, Namba Yasaka Shrine is one of the most popular shrines for first time visitors to Osaka. In many ways Namba Yasaka Shrine is actually quite mysterious, and houses an unusual deity.   


The History of Namba Yasaka Shrine

Unfortunately, there are few surviving records about the origins of Namba Yasaka Shrine, however “Yasaka Shrine” should sound familiar to anyone who has ever attended Gion Matsuri. We know for certain that Namba Yasaka Shrine is a small sister to shrine to Kyoto’s Yasaka Shrine. Just like its Kyoto counter-part, Namba Yasaka Shrine originally housed the Buddhist Japanese deity Gozu Tennou [牛頭天王], who is believed to be the guardian of the Jetavana Monastery, or “Gion” Shouja [祇園精舎] in Japanese. This monastery is a very holy place for Buddhists. It is said that the Buddha spent many years in the Jetavana Grove teaching his philosophies to his disciples and performing miracles.

Getting to Namba Yasaka Shrine

To get the shrine get off at the Nankai Namba Station and head towards Yotsubashi Street. Namba Yasaka Shrine is about one block east of Yotsubashi Street and it should take you about 5-10 minutes to get there on foot. The shrine is easy to get to, but you will need to keep your eyes opened! While Namba Yasaka is a decent sized shrine, but it can be a little tricky to find if you are not paying attention because it is surrounded by houses and tall buildings.


Shrine Grounds

Namba Yasaka Shrine, sando.

About 15 years ago, there were many omamori vending machines along the sando to the haiden! Unfortunately, they aren’t here anymore…


Standing at an impressive 12m tall big, the shishi ema-den attracts visitors to the shrine every day.

huge lion head ema-den of Namba Yasaka Shrine
Shishi head ema-den of Namba Yasaka Shrine

 Its eyes are lights and the nose is the microphone!

shishi ema-den of Namba Yasaka shrine lit up at night
Shishi at night. He looks pretty scary…

In the back of Namba Yasaka Shrine you will find a little shrine dedicated to Shinoyama Jyubei [篠山十兵衛]. Shiroyama is responsible for founding the Osaka Kizu Wholesale Market back during the Edo Period.  

Namba Yasaka Shrine

Address 2-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka City, Osaka,
Hours of OperationDawn to Dusk. No official holidays

While Namba Yasaka Shrine may not be as deeply steeped in history as some of the other shrines or temples in Osaka, but it is still a one of a kind experience that both excites and delights those who come to visit.

Coming next time,
Autumn’s iconic hagi flowers at Tokoin Hagi no Tera

The adventure continues…

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