Walking through the covered arcades from Dotonbori to Nanba Station, it’s hard to imagine what the city looked like in centuries past. That is, until you stumble across the discreetly hidden Hozen-ji Temple, which manages to preserve a small slice of old Japan right in the middle of this otherwise chaotic shopping area.
Hozen-ji Temple is a short walk from Dotonbori Bridge. From the bridge, walk into the covered shopping arcade heading toward Nanba, turn left at the intersection bordered by the Bookoff bookstore and ABC Mart shoe store. Walk one block to arrive at Hozen-ji Temple.
Built in 1637, Hozen-ji Temple pays homage to Fudo Myoo, one of five guardians of Buddhism. During the 1600's, Nanba and the surrounding Dotonbori area were blossoming as a center for entertainment, with dramatic performances of kabuki and bunraku taking place throughout the district. Even the temple catered to the performing arts, with traditional rakugo storytelling and stage plays performed on site.
Today, you can pay a visit to Hozen-ji Temple and enjoy traditional culture and see what Osaka used to look like on Hozen-ji Yokocho.
Hozen-ji Temple is best known for its statue of Fudo Myoo, lovingly known as Mizukake Fudo by the locals. As is traditional, find the statue of Fudo Myoo and splash it with water. This is said to bring you good luck. You’ll notice the statue is covered head to toe in moss, the result of many thousands of visitors pouring water over it.
After visiting the temple, wander the narrow alley of Hozen-ji Yokocho. Here, you’ll encounter quaint shops and restaurants that re-call the Osaka of several centuries ago. Taste teppanyaki and other local specialties. Try modan-yaki, a spinoff of Osaka’s famous savory pancakes known as okonomiyaki, at Yakizen.
Hozen-ji Temple is centrally located and serves as a starting point to your Osaka adventures. Plan a day shopping in the nearby stores, or spend a night out visiting surrounding attractions such as the Dotonbori Bridge and Ura Nanba.
Hozen-ji is best to visit early in the morning or in the evening. In particular, the temple comes alive in the early evening hours, when the calm glow from the traditional lanterns casts a warm shade of orange across the narrow alley and temple grounds. Hozen-ji Temple provides the perfect momentary escape from the loud city life.