OWL Magazine Korea

Osaka, Shitenno-ji Temple Built in Baekje Style

Heading south in Osaka, there is a Buddhist temple that can be read as “Sacheonwangsa” in our native Korean characters. It is a Buddhist temple called “Shitenno-ji.”

Although it may seem like a typical Buddhist temple, it has historical connections to Korea. This temple was originally established by Prince Shotoku in 578, who received three artisans from Baekje, an ancient Korean kingdom.

“Destruction of Shitenno-ji due to Pacific War”

Shitenno-ji, influenced by Baekje architectural style along with Horyu-ji, was initially built in the Asuka period. Unfortunately, significant buildings were destroyed during the Pacific War, and many were subsequently restored.

Located in the southern part of Osaka, near the “Dennōji” area, the name “Dennōji” is said to be derived from “Shitenno-ji.”

“Reconstruction and Expansion of Shitenno-ji”

Shitenno-ji, constructed by Prince Shotoku with artisans from Baekje in 578, underwent continuous expansion during the Edo period. However, there were changes in architectural styles, with alterations in the construction of structures such as stupas and towers.

Nevertheless, the arrangement of the garan (temple complex) remained true to the “Baekje-style garan layout,” placing the lecture hall, main hall, pagoda, and main gate in a straight line facing south. This style is known as “Shitenno-ji style” in Japan, maintaining the original Baekje-style garan layout.

“Shitenno-ji, Lost Again Due to Typhoon and Pacific War”

In 1934, Shitenno-ji suffered significant damage from a typhoon. While it was partially restored, it faced destruction once again during the Pacific War when it was bombed by the U.S. military. The tower, main gate, lecture hall, and southern corridor were completely destroyed during the air raids.

However, the Japanese government later meticulously restored all the buildings in the Asuka architectural style, this time using reinforced concrete for reconstruction. As a result, most of the remaining structures today were built in 1971.

“Three Main Entrances to Shitenno-ji”

Shitenno-ji has a total of five entrances, with three main ones. The west gate, also known as “Gokuraku-mon” (Paradise Gate), is considered the most charming. As there is no parking at this gate, it is convenient for pedestrians. The south gate has a bus stop nearby, often attracting groups of visitors.

“Central Garan Admission: ¥300, Free with Osaka Amazing Pass”

Passing through the west gate, there is another entrance leading to the central garan. Admission is required to enter this area, with a fee of ¥300 (approximately ₩3,000), but those with the Osaka Amazing Pass can enter for free.

Inside, visitors can explore the five-story tower called “Gojuno-to,” the “Kondo” (main hall), and the “Kodo” (lecture hall). These structures are arranged in a straight line facing south, following the Baekje-style garan layout.

“Rokujido and Ishibutai (Stone Stage) in the North of Shitenno-ji”

In the north of Shitenno-ji, there is a place called Rokujido. “Roku” means “six” in Japanese, and “ji” refers to time. Rokujido symbolizes the six times of the day for performing rituals and meditation. This location, often used for wishing blessings for the deceased, features a pond and a stone stage in the center called “Ishibutai.”

“A Noteworthy Size of Shitenno-ji”

While Shitenno-ji may seem small at first glance, it is a considerable temple complex upon closer inspection. Initially intending to explore quickly and move on to the next destination, I found myself spending more time than expected, thoroughly examining every corner of the temple.

This temple serves as a place in Japan where traces of Baekje, an ancient Korean kingdom, can be discovered—a recommended destination from an educational perspective.

“Shitenno-ji, Osaka”

  • Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 543-0051, Japan
  • Phone: +81 6-6771-0066
  • Website: http://www.shitennoji.or.jp/
  • Operating Hours: (April-September) 8:30 – 16:30 / (October-March) 8:30 – 16:00 (Last entry 30 minutes before closing)