Namba Yasaka Shrine: the Lion of Namba

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.   

Shrine Grounds of Namba Yasaka Shrine

Namba Yasaka Shrine is only 15 minutes from Nankai Namba Station. 

Entrance to Namba Yasaka Shrine
Entrance to 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, who is believed to be the guardian of the Jetavana Monastery, or “Gion” Shouja in Japanese.

Honden

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

It seems that inside of its mouth is a stage
Garrrrrrr….

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.  

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