Shitenno-ji Temple 四天王寺 | Osaka, Japan

Japan, with its enchanting scenery, distinguished history and cultural and refined cuisine, has always been on my bucket list. And, it all began with me planning to take my parents for a long quiet holiday at Osaka and Kyoto then the plans exploded exponentially when my folks started inviting my siblings and the little ones.

It was challenging to coordinate the dates and itinerary between the ones going to school, working, serving the army or even the worry that the kids will not be able to take the chilly late autumn weather over an extended period.

So, the troop reported in three batches and, we spent 11 days in Osaka and Kyoto in total. It was also impossible to keep to an itinerary or visit an izakaya or a small ramen-ya with a big group or fidgety young ones. But, it happened, and I was glad very honestly…

[Osaka & Kyoto | Japan December 2018]
6 December 2018
Shitenno-ji Temple (四天王寺 | Shitennōji)

The folks, younger sister and I formed the first batch to arrive, too bright and early for check-in, after an overnight flight from Singapore to Kansai International Airport in Osaka. So, we rode on the train to Osaka-Abenobashi Station and dropped off our luggage at the Foreign Customer’s Salon (Wing-Kan 3.5F) in Abeno Harukas so that we can go around and also take a walk at Shitenno-ji Temple first.

6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
We arrived at Shitenno-ji Temple, one of Japan’s oldest temples and the first-ever to be built by the state, via Nandaimon after a slow walk from Abeno Harukas to see the temple that was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku who supported the introduction of Buddism into Japan.

6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
The folks seem worn out from the overnight flight so, we only took a walk around the spacious outer temple grounds and did not manage to see the Gokuraku-jojo Garden or the five-storey pagoda at the inner precincts.

Absolutely loving the sight of the ginkgo trees between the Gokurakumon and Warodo that turned a striking gold in the autumn weather.

6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
One thing that also caught our eyes is the beautifully carved stone prayer wheel, Jizoguruma 地蔵車, which can also be found in front of many temples.

They say that your wish for the present life will be granted if you make a wish while turning the wheel upwards or, your afterlife if you turn it downwards. But, there are very few information regarding this on the internet or my search skill is terrible so, please let me know if I got this wrong!

6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
6 Dec 2018: Shitenno-ji Temple | Osaka, Japan
While we were looking around at the souvenir store, we noticed a trayful of “notebooks” made with washi (traditional Japanese paper) that opens up to a long scroll. The friendly ladies running the store must have noticed us looking puzzled and tried to share with us with as much English as they can manage that they are actually Goshuincho, a red seal book.

Most shrines and temples in Japan have a goshuin (御朱印) unique to each shrine or temple. You can obtain a seal by approaching the designated counter which will have a representative, typically a priest or monk, who inscribes the date and name of the temple/shrine in black ink calligraphy along with the goshuin in vermilion. You can read more about it on Discover Kyoto’s page here.

Originally, Goshuincho were used as a sort of passport to the next life and proof of how devoted or faithful you were by serving as a pilgrimage record. Today, it is popular among the younger generation or tourists as a way to create memories of their visit to the temples or a souvenir.

And that’s how our journey with the Goshuincho began…


More posts from Osaka & Kyoto | Japan December 2018 travelogue series:

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