The Shitenno are the four heavenly kings of Buddhism and Prince Shotoku built the temple to honor them as he sought to spread Buddhism in Japan.
The stone torii gate at the main entrance to Shitennoji dates from 1294 and is the oldest of its kind in the country. Several other buildings at the temple remain from 1623, though the Kondo (Main Hall), five-story pagoda, Kodo (Lecture Hall), Taishiden Hall and corridor were built post-World War II in 1965 as replicas of the original 6th century structures.
Entrance to the temple is free though there is a small fee to see the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and enter the small museum.
Shitennoji Temple is the headquarters of the Washu sect of Buddhism and contains a number of National Treasures including swords said to have belonged to Prince Shotoku and a copy of the Heian Period Hokekyo sutra.
Shitennoji plays host to a number of important festivals including Shusho-e (Doyadoya) on January 14 and Higan-e rituals on the spring and autumn equinoxes. A large flea market takes place on the temple grounds on the 21st of each month.
Shitenno-ji (in Japanese)
Shitennoji is a short walk from either Tennoji Station (12 minutes) or Shitennoji-mae Station (5 minutes) on the Tanimachi Line of the Osaka subway.
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