The Lion Shrine in Osaka
Namba Yasaka-jinja is a Shinto shrine located in the south of Osaka, in Japan. The place of worship was rebuilt after World War II and is renowned for the 12 meters high huge lion head called Ema-Den, sheltering a prayer altar in its opened mouth.
Osaka is not generally thought of when prioritizing temples visits. Its neighbor Kyoto, which hosts several thousands of them, rather plays this role of the traditional flagship for the whole Kansai area, if not Japan altogether. However, the concrete metropolis hides some nice surprises and Namba Yasaka Shrine is certainly one of them.
Not quite known, it hides within the alleyways of Nanba district. Not necessarily easy to find without a map, it however keeps the inimitable atmosphere of small religious buildings in residential areas.
For Osaka's Yasaka has not always been that discreet but quite unusual sanctuary as it stands today. Once a flourishing vast temple, it was significantly narrowed down during the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which separated Shinto and Buddhism cults. Damaged by World War II bombings and rebuilt afterwards, it then received what now makes its little fame: the Ema-Den, a building shaped in a giant lion head.
Spanning over 12 meters high and 11 width, this 獅子舞台 Shishibutai mask 😷 distills an impressive figure, which keeps between its teeth a rather classic recollection place. For the anecdote, the giant lion was not built until 1975. Two processions pass by it every year:
- One on the third Sunday of January, inspired by the myth of Susano, and,
- The Naniwa-Gion in mid-December.
The rest of the small complex hosts some tiny shrines dedicated to other deities such as Inari. Among the vegetation, some beautiful specimens of sakura 🌸 allow visitors to admire beautiful cherry blossoms during bloom season in spring.