The Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka is dedicated to Shintoism and is the main shrine of all the Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan. It is called “Sumiyoshi-san” by the locals, and is famous for the large crowds that come to the shrine on New Year’s Day for hatsumōde.
Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Shrine is one of Japan’s oldest shrines. Founded in the 3rd century before the introduction of Buddhism, it displays a unique style of shrine architecture, called Sumiyoshi-zukuri, that is free of influence from the Asian mainland. Sumiyoshi-zukuri is characterized by straight roofs (as opposed to the curved roofs commonly built in later centuries) which are decorated by two sets of forked finials (chigi) and five horizontal billets (katsuogi). Furthermore, buildings constructed in Sumiyoshi-zukuri style have their entrance under the gable and are surrounded by a fence.
There are four main halls at Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Taisha. Interestingly, the first three are positioned in a straight line facing west, while the fourth stands just beside the third. This arrangement of shrine buildings is rarely seen in Japan, as shrines built during and after the Nara Period mostly face south, pertaining to Chinese geomancy.
Leading to the entrance of the main shrine grounds is the beautiful Sorihashi Bridge, which creates a uniquely high arch over a pond. All this makes the Sumiyoshi Shrine the ultimate shrine/temple in Osaka. Not many people will come to Osaka and have high hopes for tourism, but while Sumiyoshi doesn’t have the grandiosity of the temples and shrines in Kyoto, nor the historical importance of those in Tokyo, I think people will be surprised at the presentation of Sumiyoshi – it’s one of the main tourist sites in the city.
The Sumiyoshi Shrine is located in southern Osaka, a few steps from Sumiyoshi Taisha Station on the Nankai Main Line. From Nankai Namba Station, the one way ride costs 210 Yen and takes less than ten minutes. The shrine can also be reached by the Hankai Tramway from Tennoji.