Experience Osaka's historical treasure trove with a walk through Minamikawachi 0

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"Break away from the busy buzz of the city and let yourself be gently swayed aboard a train headed for the Minamikawachi area. It's just 30 minutes by train from central Osaka to the closest station in the area (Kintetsu Abenobashi Station to Kishi Station).The Minamikawachi area lies under the protective gaze of the Kongo and Katsuragi mountains, and with its ancient burial mounds, temples, and traditional townhouses, no other place in Osaka is so rich with history.Take the town of Taishi and its connection to Prince Shotoku, or Tondabayashi Jinaimachi, a townscape which retains Edo period mercantile houses. Listen closely, for these places breathe with history." 

Start at Kintetsu Kishi Station

  • About 10 minutes by bus

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1. Eifuku-ji Temple

This temple is about a 10-minute ride on the Kongo Bus from the bus stop at Kintetsu Kishi Station. When you disembark at the "Taishimae" bus stop, the temple stairs rise up before you. Even from the bottom of the stairs, you can still see straight up over the vermillion south gate to the impressive sight of the Tomb of Prince Shotoku and Shinagasan Eifuku-ji Temple. In addition to Prince Shotoku, the imperial mausoleum ("three skeletons mausoleum") is where his mother Empress Anahobe no Hashihito and consort Kashiwabe no Oiratsume are buried. In order to protect their remains, it's said that Empress Suiko erected a large temple here, which Emperor Shomu then developed in the first year of the Jinki era (724).


0721-98-0019
External site  

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2. Kondo (Osaka Cultural Property)

Pass under the southern gate and you'll come upon a neatly arranged and beautiful temple precinct covered with pebbles. On the left side of the grounds is a large temple hall called the Kondo (golden hall). The principle object of worship here is a 90cm tall statue of Nyorin Kannon. The flanking images are of Gyoji and Fudo Myo'o. A signpost found in the back of a small room makes it clear that the temple was rebuilt in 1732: Both sign and hall have been designated as an Osaka Cultural Property.  


 0721-98-0019

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3. Mausoleum of Prince Shotoku

Advance further up the stairs and to the inner precincts: There past Niten-mon Gate are structures like Uenomi-do, Jodo-do, and Kyo-do, halls built to surround the mausoleum. It's said that Prince Shotoku, his mother, and his consort are buried in what is called the three-skeleton mausoleum. Also, one legend says that when the Buddhist monk Kukai retired to Jodo-do for prayer, he could hear music from the mausoleum for 99 nights and was visited by three bodhisattvas: Amida-Butsu, Kannon-Bosatsu, and Seishi-Bosatsu.


0721-98-0019

  • 3-minute walk

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4. Saiho-in Temple

Saiho-in Temple rests at the end of a small road across the street from Eifuku-ji Temple. After Prince Shotoku passed away, his wet nurses Princess Tsukimasu, Princess Hikimasu, and Princess Tamateru (respectively the daughters of Soga no Umako, Ono no Imoko, and Mononobe no Moriya) cut off their hair and became Buddhist nuns. It is said that the temple was erected by the three women in front of his grave so that they could pray for his happiness in the next life. Saiho-in Temple stands at the pinnacle of an even longer staircase than the one to Eifuku-ji Temple: It seems to gaze down to the mausoleum from the top of the stairs, as if watching over it.


  • About a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Tondabayashi-nishiguchi Station

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5. The Old Sugiyama Family House (Important Cultural Property)

Once you've returned to Kishi Station, take a Kintetsu train to Tondabayashi-nishiguchi. A short 5-minute walk from the station gets you to Jinaimachi, where the rich atmosphere of Edo-period merchant homes still remains. First off is the Old Sugiyama Family House, a sake brewery which operated from the 17th century into the early modern era: Said to be the oldest building in Jinaimachi, it is also known as the house where the poet Tsuyuko Ishikawa (member of the Myojo literary crowd) was born. The structure is open to the public (with admission fee), allowing you to explore the interior and gardens. While here, be sure to investigate the details on the decoratively carved crossbars, large alcove, panel paintings, and more.  


Adults (16 Years+) ¥400, children (6 – 15) ¥200; 20% discount for groups of 20 people or more  
Cultural Properties Division, Board of Education, Tondabayashi City: 0721-25-1000
External site 

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6. Jinaimachi Center

Located across from the Old Sugiyama Family House, this facility is distinguished by its paper lanterns. It has a range of displays featuring mercantile tools, shop signs, decorative demon-faced tiles, and more. You can take a break here for free, so stop by during your wanderings. There are also vending machines and restrooms available.


Cultural Properties Division, Board of Education, Tondabayashi City: 0721-25-1000

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7. Jonomon-suji

Jonomon-suji was once the main street of Jinaimachi. As befits a main street, it is lined with many grand old buildings that were once temples, lumber traders, brewers, oil dealers, and more. Though a single building in one small district, just one of the mansions here (now a rare sight in modern Osaka) will show you the prosperity of a time long past. Another part of the fun comes in comparing the architectural styles of the time, seen in the white plaster walls, wooden fences, wood latticework, fine lattice windows, decorative demon-faced tiles, overhanging vents, and other elements.  


Cultural Properties Division, Board of Education, Tondabayashi City: 0721-25-1000

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8. Shinobi-gaeshi/Atemage-no-Michi

Jonomon-suji was once the main street of Jinaimachi. As befits a main street, it is lined with many grand old buildings that were once temples, lumber traders, brewers, oil dealers, and more. Though a single building in one small district, just one of the mansions here (now a rare sight in modern Osaka) will show you the prosperity of a time long past. Here and there among the old structures of the town, you can see contrivances made to deflect the influences of war: white walls, slat fences, mushiko-mado grilled windows (developed during the Warring States Era), and other details. One such instance are the shinobi-gaeshi (literally, "ninja-repellers"), wood and bamboo spikes set atop walls. What's more, the routes between the streets are staggered to obstruct the view. This design, called "atemage no michi" (or "aim bending street"), is just one of the many clever ways people sought to protect themselves and their livelihoods. 


Cultural Properties Division, Board of Education, Tondabayashi City: 0721-25-1000


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Sights to see:At the Taishi Hot Springs, you can relax and wash away the weariness of your journey.   
HUNGRY?:At Centre de village, you can savor delicious Italian cuisine.  
SOUVENIRS:The old Japanese sweet shop Kashiwaya Katsuragi-do at Tondabayashi Station sells Jinaimachi Rice Crackers, stamped with the symbols and crests of the town's temples and old homes. These make perfect trip mementos and souvenirs.