Namba Yasaka Shrine
This secret shrine is Osaka in a nutshell.
- Namba Yasaka Festival Date: Annually on the third Sunday of January.
A mere eight-minute walk from busy Nankai Station, Namba Yasaka Shrine is home to Namba’s guardian deity and part of a once flourishing complex of Buddhist temples that were burned down in wartime air raids.
Namba Yasaka is famous for its lion-shaped stage, which stands out as a unique piece of architecture, especially compared with the austere temple beside it. It’s not hard to draw a parallel with Osaka’s kaleidoscopic mix of traditional, retro, modern and futuristic, distilled at this secret shrine smack in the center of the city’s bawdiest entertainment district.
The lion’s head stage was built in 1975 and has a delightfully retro feel, as striking as something you might find in Las Vegas or a theme park. It stands 12 meters tall and seven meters deep. The huge lion’s mouth is believed to swallow evil spirits and bring good luck, especially for those looking to do well in school and business matters. Because of this many people visit the shrine during exam time or the start and end of the financial year.
The third Sunday of January marks the shrine’s annual festival, during which a huge tug-of-war competition is held. This is to simulate the myth that the shrine’s deity once killed a giant snake that brought peace to the people of what is now the Namba area.