A short train ride away in the south of Namba, the Sumiyoshi district reveals its station’s surroundings, serving, from one part to the other, a vast public park including the famous Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine, accessible on the east side.
With a history of 1800 years, starting in 211, Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the most renowned shrines in the country, representing its lineage across all of Japan. The archipelago includes about 2300 other complexes. Just like Izumo Taisha and Ise-Jingu’s buildings, its unique architecture is a Shinto style called sumiyoshi-zukuri. The main hall honden is obviously classified as a National Treasure.
Due to being constructed before the arrival of Buddhism in Japan with Chinese monks, it is one of the oldest spiritual sites in Japan. Originally, the shrine was closer to the ocean, before the land gain over the sea due to humans’ actions. This is the resume of this site, constituting a rich visit full of symbols, loved by locals and tourists.
The main attraction starts at the entrance, with the canal surpassed by the gorgeous Sorihashi, nicknamed Taiko-bashi (the Drum Bridge) due to the reflection of its arch in the water, resembling the percussion instrument. Its shiny red color and strong slope give it an original form; stairs are actually necessary to cross it.
Then we really enter into the sacred inside, with the view on the main shrine, actually made of four buildings perfectly looking alike each other and aligned for three of them. Each of them is dedicated to a deity kami and protecting sailors, boats and more broadly the sea industry and travelers. The legend impress Jingu Kogo is also worshiped here.
The outskirts of the complex enable enjoyment of a pleasant wandering along the alleys, bordered with flags and hundreds of stone lanterns, some of them huge, as well as centenary cedars trees leading to several singular cult sites:
- Goshogozen: the most sacred place of the complex, where the deities appeared for the first time. To bring luck and happiness, worshipers researched the stones to find them engraved with Five 五 Go, Big 大 Dai, and Power 力 Riki;
- Nankun-sha: a small shop lit by numerous lanterns. Here, visitors can buy a Maneki Neko of a specific style, supporting professional success;
- Omakaru: a stone supposed to be lighter the second time it is carried, in order to make wishes come true.
Also, the west exit of the train station opens up on Sumiyoshi Park, which does not have any cultural or historical appeal. It is rather a classic green space for a lunch break around the pond, or a kids’ park for families to enjoy.
How to get to Sumiyoshi Taisha
From JR Namba Station:
By train -- 9 minutes, Nankai Line, direction to Wakayama, Sumiyoshitaisha Stop
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 271)
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (from 6:30 a.m. from October to March)
Taiko-Bashi light-up until 9 p.m.
How long / when to visit
Allow one to two hours
Weather in Osaka
8 / 16°C
11 / 18°C
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Official Website (in English)