Nagoya’s centrally located Osu Kannon Temple was built in nearby Hashima-City in 1333, and moved to its present site in 1612 when the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu built the Nagoya Castle. Surrounded by tall buildings, rows of shopping arcades selling everything from computers, cameras and electronic paraphernalia in general, to clothing, toys and collectables, not to mention the shrines and other small temples, the popular Osu Kannon is one of the famed 33 Kannon Temples of Owari (Owari being the old name of western Aichi Prefecture).
Dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, Kannon, this holy place features, enshrined in the main prayer hall, a wooden statue of its namesake deity carved by no other than the Buddhist saint, Kobo Daishi. The current building was reconstructed in 1970, so the bright red pillars and beams makes it the more exciting and photogenic construction in the area. The temple itself contains a library of over 15,000 ancient Japanese and Chinese books and texts, many of them designated National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. The oldest extant hand-written edition of the Kojiki, the Annuals of Mythological Japan, is also kept there.
Throughout the year, many events are staged within the temple grounds. The biggest draw-cards are the antiques fairs held on the grounds on the 18th and 28th of each month. At other times, people come to simply pray to Kannon, allegedly enshrined within the grand temple.
Have the Most Fun Shopping At the Osu Arcades
Around the temple are several covered arcades crossing each other, featuring over 1,200 stores selling anything from the kitsch to computers, cameras to trendy (even tacky) fashions, antiques, to new and used kimono and clothing, restaurants and cafes to variety and souvenir stores, and pretty much everything in-between. Many of the shops offer Duty Free services for tourists too.
The arcades have become famous for being the pop-culture center of not just Nagoya, but the world, as Osu is one of the venues for the annual World Cosplay Summit. Various pop-culture themed anime specialty shops, sci-fi goods outlets, Maid Cafés and costume shops cater to the many Cosplayers who gather there regularly.
Temple of the Oda Clan, Bansho-ji
Among the arcades and shops is the historical Bansho-ji, the Oda clan temple, which has recently undergone a major reconstruction. Although the traditional look and atmosphere have been somewhat reduced, its significance has not been diminished in any way.
The original Bansho-ji was built in 1540 by the warlord Oda Nobuhide, father of Nobunaga, not far from the original Nagoya Castle. The site was decided when Nobuhide and the first abbot saw a turtle, considered a symbol of long life, sunning itself on a rock, and so Bansho-ji, or “Ten Thousand Pine Tree Temple” was established and became the Oda Clan temple.
The Bansho-ji was the stage for a well-known historical episode in which a young and impetuous Oda Nobunaga arrived late for his father’s funeral, stormed into the temple in front of the gathered clan members and retainers and instead of gently offering incense, threw a handful of ashes at the alter and, knocking over the incense burners and tables, stormed out causing quite a commotion. Nobuhide’s grave can still be seen there.
This temple also was rebuilt at its present site in 1610. Destroyed by allied bombing in World War Two, was again reconstructed, along with the surrounding shopping arcade. Visitors to the arcades often stop by the temple to make small offerings and pray to the deity within.
Despite the recent reconstruction and modern appearance, Bansho-ji has a long and colorful past, with a history you can feel simply by being there.