Marked by its modern steel and concrete gate and imposing guardian statues, the temple of Isshin-ji dates back to 1185 when it was founded by Honen, the founder of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism. The temple is best known for its “Bone Buddha” statue made from the cremated remains of some 200,000 Osaka residents.
For most visitors, the first glimpse of the temple complex is of the ultra-modern glass, steel, and concrete gate—a departure from the traditional wooden temple gate and a contrast to the more traditional temple structure it protects. The temple itself lies off the beaten tourist path but remains active with local worshippers who come to pay their respects to the ancestral remains within the temple statue. The temple is free to enter.
Things to know before you go
- Isshin-ji Temple is a must for architecture buffs and those interested in modern Japanese Buddhism.
- This is an active place of worship, so remember to keep your voice down.
- Photography is allowed within the temple, but be respectful of those there to worship.
How to get there
The temple is north of Tennoji Park and west of Tennoji Temple, a 10-minute walk from Tennoji Station on the JR Loop, Midosuji, and Tanimachi Lines.
When to get there
The temple is open daily from 9am to 4pm. While not often visited by tourists, the grounds are often crowded with locals, so plan to arrive early or late for more elbow room.
Okutsubutsu - The Bone Buddha
The statue within Isshin-ji Temple may sound morbid, but the practice of crafting these statues from human remains is a way of paying respect to the deceased. The temple’s first Okutsubatsu was made in 1887, with a new one created just about every decade since.
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