Photo: sumiyoshitaisha_spirit

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: One of western Japan’s oldest shrines

By GaijinPot Travel

The sprawling picturesque grounds of Sumiyoshi Taisha look plucked straight from a storybook. Also known as Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine, it’s one of the most famous in Osaka and the site of many of the nation’s most important religious rites and traditions.

Founded in the third century, the saga of the shrine stretches over a thousand years. It is steeped in history —it was mentioned in "Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji), the world’s oldest novel.

Photo: Mark Mrwizard

A brief history of Sumiyoshi Taisha

Sumiyoshi Taisha is a Shinto shrine that embodies Japan’s ancient animistic religion. Three prominent Shinto deities are enshrined here, including the spirit of legendary Okinagatarashihime no Mikoto, known as Empress Jingu. The Sumiyoshi deities protect sailors and fishermen—though now landlocked, the shrine once faced the sea. There are over 2,000 Sumiyoshi shrines scattered across Japan, but Sumiyoshi Taisha is the most important, acting as the headquarters of the seafaring Sumiyoshi tradition.

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© GaijinPot Travel

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It is one of the most visited shrines over the first week of January. I took two visitors there directly from KIX and they looked bedraggled by the time we made it through the gauntlet. The oddest thing was a lone grumpy white evangelical picketing with handwritten signs against hatsumode. But even he had the sense to stay across the street away from the onrushers.

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 The oddest thing was a lone grumpy white evangelical

In the not so distant past, you would occasionally see a not so grumpy white agnostic getting off the Nankai train, buying a bento from a nearby unagi restaurant and then getting on the Hankai tram to deliver said bento to his wife's grandmother in Sakai. I wonder if that restaurant is still there. There was always a nice atmosphere in the area in front of the shrine, especially in the early evening. It seemed stuck in a time warp.

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Thanks for the sweet story albaleo. Hankai tram is good for that slow old timey feel. As you know, it runs right through Sakai near the joint Sen no Rikyu and Yosano Akiko museum and the newly opened four level Pheniche Sacai ? Concert hall. You can jump off and walk towards the JR line to some of the kofun mounds that were given World Heritage status this year. And somewhere on the Hankai Line is a corrugated metal lunch joint open only 2-3 hours a day owned by an 89 year old cook who is a minor celebrity in China for his outstanding rice.

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the joint Sen no Rikyu and Yosano Akiko museum

I got to visit that museum earlier in the year, with my wife and two of her old school friends. (I believe they were the trio of bad girls at school. All in our 60s now, it was one of my happiest days out.) I didn't know about the concert hall (it's called Fenice Sacay - according to Google maps anyway). There's also a knife museum near Myokokuji-mae station (and a number of old knife makers in the vicinity). I have many fond memories of that area. I could bore you for hours. :-)

Do you live in the area, TorafusuTorasan?

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Pretty near there. About 45 minutes on the train.

They used the Sacay spelling from some antique European maps of Japan. They reprinted a section in the free Natts railway magazine this week, and here are the other place names surrounding Sacay: Farima--maybe Arima onsen area?, Ecunocuny, Cavachi, and Hiamato--most likely Hashimoto in Wakayama close to Nara. Somehow Osaka/Naniwa didnt make it onto the map, but Lake Biwa is there unlabelled.

Now watch those exotic names get used for next years car models.

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Ecunocuny, perhaps Kinokuni?

Cavachi, perhaps Kawachi?

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