Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sumiyoshi Taisha

The first stop in my Osaka highlight itinerary was the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. I wanted to pack as much as possible in one day since I was pressed for time. So I decided that the best thing to do was to hit the places that were close together in order to have a productive sightseeing day in Osaka. Getting to the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine took several train transfers. From Shin Osaka Station, I took the JR train using my JR rail pass to Osaka Station then I transfered to the JR loop line to Shin Immamiya where I made another transfer through a private train line for Y200 to Sumiyoshi Station. From there it was a 5 minute walk to the shrine.

Sumiyoshi Taisha is an early 3rd century shrine commissioned by an empress during that era to wish sea faring voyagers to Korea a safe travel. It is dedicated to Shinto deities associated with the sea. Some of the buildings are faithful replicas of the original which predates Chinese Shinto Architectural influence. Some of the buildings go back to 1810, having escaped WWII bombings.

As you approach the shrine, the first thing that comes to sight is the stone Tori Gate that leads to a curved, red bridge. At first glance, the bridge appears to be a smooth curve line that leads to the other side of the lake. However as I approached to climb it, I saw that it was actually a hundred tiny little stair-like steps. They were so narrow, each step could only accommodate half of my foot. So I had to climb it sidewise.

A beautiful view of the pond can be seen from the middle of the bridge, where many local watercolorists can be seen painting the peaceful scenery around.

Upon reaching the other side, there was a purification well where most worshipers wash their hands and mouth before proceeding into the shrine to offer their prayers.

To the left of the entrance were prayers, messages and notes written on wood and aligned to grace the walls of the shrine. Upon entering the main shrine area, there were some interestingly-dressed gentlemen. I believe they were preparing for some kind of show for that evening. There were also traditionally dressed souvenir sales clerks seated, selling little trinkets in a shop near the exit, past the pond and the red bridge.

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