Welcome to Sumiyoshi Taisha

While in Osaka, I went to Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine). Sumiyoshi is the name of a group of 3 gods in the Shinto religion. There are 600 shrines in Japan dedicated to Sumiyoshi, which is also why there are several regions in Japan called Sumiyoshi.  The Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka is considered the main shrine (総本社) of all the shrines dedicated to Sumiyoshi.

Several parts of Sumiyoshi Taisha are officially classified by the Japanese government as Important Cultural Objects of Japan, in order to ensure the protection for future generations.

Sumiyoshi Taisha is best known for this rounded bridge, called the Taiko Bashi (太鼓橋), that joins the gardens with the main shrine.


The main entrance of Sumiyoshi Taisha is marked with a pillar and a stone torii.  Torii are traditional Japanese gates that mark the entrance to a Shinto shrine.

Many people stop to take pictures at the bridge.

Once you get close, you can see how steep it is – it is a little scary to walk down!

Once over the bridge, we get to the second entrance of the shrine.

Because Sumiyoshi shrines are dedicated to 3 different gods in the Shinto religion, Sumiyoshi Taisha has 3 individual shrines inside its gates.

First shrine – dedicated to Sokotsutsu no O no Mikoto
Second shrine – dedicated to Nakatsutsu no O no Mikoto
Third shrine – dedicated to Uwatsutsu no O no Mikoto. There is a fourth shrine next to this one which I did not take a picture of.

Because Sumiyoshi Taisha is such an important shrine, there were many people coming to have their children blessed. I also saw a traditional Japanese wedding procession. (The bride is the lady entirely in white, with a large white object on her head. The groom is the man on her right side. The man leading the procession is the main priest)

I took this street car to get to Sumiyoshi Taisha. It was my first time riding in a street car – it is basically a train which runs on the same roads as cars! This is definitely not a bus, since there are tracks in the ground.  I told my mother later that it freaked me out to be in a train which was running on the road, even ignoring traffic lights, but she told me that when she was a child, they existed in Tokyo as well. 

I hope you enjoyed my visit to Sumiyoshi Taisha! 
xoxo, K
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Welcome to Osaka Castle

Recently, I went to Osaka Castle, one of the landmarks of Osaka. Osaka Castle was an important castle in the unification of Japan during the 16th century, and was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the 3 major warlords in the history of Japan.

This period of history is very popular in Japan, and there have been countless TV dramas, movies, and books written about it. Because of this, the important castles and landmarks during this period of time are also popular tourist destinations, even for Japanese people.

The outside grounds of the castle is now a park. I saw countless people running, walking, and cycling through the grounds. It reminded me a little of Central Park in New York – a huge green space in the middle of the city. I seriously wish every major city had a park like this!

Japanese castles are surrounded by several layers of fortification before you get to the actual building. This is one of those gates.

Here is my ticket to see the inner building.

The main attraction of Japanese castles is to see the view from the top. The insides of the castles are usually not preserved, and are made into museums which display related artifacts or to explain the importance of the museum.  Since going to the top is the main attraction, many Japanese castles have elevators inside that takes you to the top (usually something like the 7th or 8th floor), and then you walk the stairs to go down, going through the exhibits at each floor.

The entrance of Osaka castles has this hilarious sign, written to sound like a Japanese warlord’s comments:
“The strategy of the restroom:
– the restroom is on the 2nd floor
– when each second counts, go up using the stairs
– don’t rush. Japan was not united by rushing”

Many castles of this era have golden koi fish at the corners of the top layers.  You can see much of Osaka city from the top.

The weather was beautiful, and I was able to take great pictures!

If you do decide to visit Osaka castle, it might be helpful to read up on Toyotomi Hideyoshi before you come. Along with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, these three people are probably the most important people in ancient Japanese history.

Hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope you’ll visit Osaka some day!

xoxo, K

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Weekend shopping in Osaka!

I went to the Namba area of Osaka recently for some shopping!
Here is a wikipedia link to the area (specifically, Dotonbori). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C5%8Dtonbori

Some of the most famous sights of Osaka are found in this area, where there are a lot of mechanical signs.

The Glico Man
The Giant Crab at Kani Doraku
(Its legs move!)
Kuidaore Taro
(He’s mechanical too!  Not my pic)
This is one of the first H&M stores in this region.
Unfortunately, I didn’t buy anything.  It was CRAZY CROWDED!!!
Here’s the line for Krispy Kremes.  The guard at the end is holding a sign that says “20 minute wait”
The streets of Namba remind me a little bit of New York.
All of these buildings are high end brand stores.
If you go off the main road, you’ll see streets lined with stores like this one.
Osaka is famous for its takoyaki
Takoyaki are balls of batter with a piece of octopus inside them.
This store seems to be pretty popular.  Look at how long the line is.
Hope you enjoyed my virtual tour of Namba, Osaka
xoxo, K

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