Wednesday, February 24, 2010


On 11th February, hubby and I had dinner at a kaiten-zushi restaurant named Ichiba no sushiyasan in Akita city. This restaurant is located inside a wholesale market named Akita marugoto ichiba which is known as ‘the kitchen of Akita’ and offers best fresh local food products.
Front of Ichiba no sushiyasan restaurant

Nowadays people the world over are quite familiar with the Japanese cuisine sushi. However, I have realized that my friends from India often get confused between sushi and sashimi (raw fish). So I will briefly explain about sushi. Sushi is cooked vinegar rice that is commonly topped with raw fish or put into rolls. Depending upon the fillings and toppings, condiments, and the way the ingredients are put together, sushi can be broadly classified into four types. The first type of sushi called nigirizushi is hand-pressed mound of rice with a bit of wasabi and a slice of raw fish/shellfish/other ingredients on top. The second type called makizushi is cylindrical sushi roll wrapped in nori seaweed. The third type called inarizushi is deep-fried tofu pouch stuffed with sushi rice. The fourth type called chirashizushi is a spread of various ingredients like fish, mushroom, omelette, and seaweed over seasoned rice on a dish. Soy sauce and wasabi are most important seasonings for sushi. Soy sauce is used as dipping sauce. Wasabi is put in nigirizushi or is mixed with soy sauce for dipping. Pickled ginger called gari is served as a side ingredient with sushi, which is eaten between bites of sushi to refresh the mouth.

Hubby and I had been to a kaiten-zushi restaurant. Kaiten-zushi is a sushi restaurant where the plates containing sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table and counter seat (sushi bar). Customers sitting on the counter seat face the conveyor belt, and pick their selections from a steady stream of sushi moving along the conveyor belt. In addition, there are tables placed at right angles to the conveyor belt, allowing a group of up to six people to sit at one table. Two people sitting at the table who are nearest to the conveyer belt usually pick up the plates of sushi selected by others in the group. The usual speed of conveyor belt is about 8 cm per second which is slow enough to ensure safe transport of sushi and fast enough to bring enough volume and varieties to the customers.
Sushi plates on a conveyor belt

Kaiten-zushi restaurants are usually considered towards the bottom end of both price and quality as compared to traditional sushi restaurants. However, it is very popular nowadays. For foreigners like me with limited Japanese language skills, this type of sushi restaurant is really convenient as we can just pick our choice of sushi from the conveyor belt without worrying about the proper reading and pronunciation of the kanji characters for that particular sushi and ordering it. A remarkable feature of kaiten-zushi is the stream of plates winding through the restaurant. The selection is usually not limited to sushi, and often includes fruits, drinks, desserts, and soups. If customers cannot find their desired sushi, they can make special orders. If a small quantity of sushi is ordered, it is placed on the conveyor belt but marked so that other customers know that the dish was ordered by someone. Tools and condiments like chopsticks, gari pickled ginger, soy sauce, and small dishes for soy sauce are usually found near the seats. Often self-served tea is complimentary with cups stacked on a shelf and green tea powder or teabags kept in a storage container on the sushi bar counter or tables. There is also a hot water faucet at the counter or tables to make tea.
Sushi conveyor belt, a box of gari pickled ginger, and hot water faucet at the bar counter

Hubby making hot green tea

Hubby and I had various kinds of sushi at kaiten-zushi restaurant. Sushi is generally served in pairs at this type of restaurant. So we both had one sushi piece each from every plate we selected. Therefore we could enjoy the taste of several kinds of sushi. We had nigirizushi of anago (eel), maguro (tuna), kanburi (yellowtail), tamagoyaki (egg omelette), aburi salmon, and aburi engawa. Engawa is the thin muscle of the dorsal fin of hirame (flounder). Aburi means roasted sushi where the fish topping is seared with a blowtorch, and is partly grilled and partly raw. The taste of aburi sushi is just amazing. We also had special type of nigirizushi called gunkanmaki, which is an oval, hand-formed mound of sushi rice with a strip of nori seaweed wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredients. We had gunkanmaki of tako salada (salad of octopus and mayonnaise) and uni (sea urchin). In addition, we had makizushi of kanikama (crab stick). We also ordered atsuyaki tamago (thick tamagoyaki), the taste of which is considered to be a good measure of the quality and skills of a sushi restaurant. The omelette was light, fluffy, and delicious. Hubby had a bowl of ebi (shrimp) miso soup to go along with sushi. We enjoyed our dinner of sushi very much.

Our dinner of various kinds of sushi

Hubby eating sushi

Hubby having soup

After finishing our dinner, we piled the empty plates of sushi one above the other. Hubby then called a restaurant staff, who calculated the bill by counting the number and type of plates of consumed sushi. Plates with different colors, patterns, and shapes have different prices, which ranged from 200 Yen to 800 Yen at this shop. The cost of different plates was indicated on a signboard inside the restaurant.
A pile of empty plates of sushi

A portion of sushi plates showing different colors and patterns

Hubby and I love eating at kaiten-zushi restaurant as we can just pick our choice of sushi from the conveyor belt without worrying about the special language, correct jargon, and culture of traditional sushi shop. Actually my hubby is not much familiar with the special language of traditional sushi shop, even though he is Japanese. I have noticed that most of the people of his generation are not really bothered about using the correct jargon. Therefore kaiten-zushi is very popular nowadays. We liked the sushi of Ichiba no sushiyasan restaurant. I compiled a video of our dinner at this restaurant.

A compiled video of our dinner at Ichiba no sushiyasan

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tsuyunoten Shrine and Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre

As I wrote in the previous post, on 3rd January, after visiting Taiyuji Temple located near Higashi Umeda railway station in Osaka, hubby and I returned back to the station. Hubby saw the map of the area in a Japanese guidebook and realized that there was a famous local shrine named Tsuyunoten Shrine (Jinja) in the neighborhood, and so next we visited this shrine. Tsuyunoten Jinja is a short walk from Higashi Umeda station.

Tsuyunoten Jinja shrine is located in Sonezaki of Kita ward. The shrine was built more than 1100 years ago. This shrine is considered to be the protector of the Sonezaki and Umeda areas, and has been appreciated by local people. In 1703, young lovers who were not destined to be together took their own lives in the forest of the shrine. The tragedy inspired Chikamatsu Monzaemon to dramatize the incident and write the famous Bunraku puppet play ‘Sonezaki Shinju’. The pureness of love moved audiences to tears and the play became a sensation. The main character, Ohatsu, especially left a vivid impression on audiences. Through the play, the shrine became very famous and began to be commonly called Ohatsu-Tenjinsha. Since then, the shrine has been known as the god of love and is visited by many couples.

From Higashi Umeda station we walked for about ten minutes to reach the shrine. We walked south along Ohatsu-Tenjin Street which is a covered shopping arcade. Many pictures of the doomed lovers associated with Tsuyunoten Jinja shrine hangs from the ceiling of the shopping street. At the end of the street among many buildings, Tsuyunoten Jinja Shrine is located. We used the back approach (Ura-sando) to reach the shrine and entered a small gate of the shrine. Walking through the shrine premises, we reached the main torii-gate located at the main approach (Omote-sando) to the shrine, which consists of busy streets bordered by houses and shops. A big crowd of people were doing hatsumode during the New Year and there was a long queue of people waiting for worshipping at Haiden Worship Hall (oratory). After waiting in the queue for about fifteen minutes, we reached the front entrance of Haiden, and prayed for the well being of our family as well as friends. We saw a priest performing some Shinto rituals inside Haiden. Afterwards, we moved around in the shrine premises and enjoyed the views. I took a photo of hubby standing next to a huge ema plaque bearing the picture of tiger, the zodiac animal of 2010. Inside the shrine premises, we saw a beautiful bright vermilion colored Torii gate of another shrine named Tamatsuinari Jinja. We did not enter this shrine. We were inside Tsuyunoten Jinja premises for another fifteen minutes and then walked up to Umeda railway station. It was a fifteen minutes walk.
Ohatsu-Tenjin shopping street

Ura-sando Gate of Tsuyunoten Jinja Shrine

Omote-sando Torii Gate of the shrine

Haiden Worship Hall of the shrine

A long queue of worshippers in front of Haiden

Hubby and I almost reached the front entrance of Haiden

A priest performing Shinto ritual inside Haiden

Hubby standing next to a huge ema plaque bearing the picture of tiger

Torii gate of Tamatsuinari Jinja shrine

At Umeda railway station we took Osaka city subway Midosuji line train to reach Shinsaibashi railway station. After coming out of Shinsaibashi station, we walked around the city for some time. It was fun to wander around the crowded streets. While walking, we saw a small-scale reproduction of the Statue of Liberty on the top of a building in Amerikamura (American Village). Amerikamura is a retail and entertainment area located in Shinsaibashi. Since the 1970s, it has been a center of youth culture. The streets are lined with retail outlets of Western fashion clothing stores, bars, nightclubs, cafes, and galleries. It is one of the sightseeing spots in Osaka but we skipped seeing it.
The Statue of Liberty on the top of a building in Amerikamura

We had not eaten lunch that day, as we were rather busy visiting various temples and shrines. It was already about 5 pm, and so we had an early dinner at a restaurant named Shokudou Maruten in Shinsaibashi. It is a small restaurant and we had a nice experience of having various kinds of dishes with a taste of home-cooked cuisine. We had chicken karaage, miso soup, salad of shredded cabbage with boiled pork and egg, yasai nimono (simmered vegetables in soy sauce), small bowl of sukiyaki, tonjiru soup, saba no shioyaki (grilled mackerel with salt), and rice. We ate too much but enjoyed the simple taste of the food. A huge black and white picture of the original Shokudou Maruten building hangs on the wall inside the restaurant.
Picture of the original Shokudou Maruten building hanging on a wall inside the restaurant

Our dinner at Shokudou Maruten Restaurant

Hubby having dinner

Next, we went to see a Japanese comedy show at Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre located in Namba. Due to the very heavy dinner that we had at Shokudou Maruten restaurant, I was not able to walk much afterwards. So we took Osaka city subway Midosuji line train to go up to Namba railway station, although it was less than a kilometer away from Shinsaibashi station. At Namba underground railway station, we saw two mini aquariums having dimensions of about two meters square. The freshwater aquarium had aquatic plants, and cute and bright tropical fishes. The saltwater aquarium had beautiful rocks and large colorful fishes. We enjoyed watching the fishes for some time. In fact, while planning our trip to Osaka, we thought of visiting Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan which is one of the largest public aquariums in the world and is a must-see sightseeing spot in Osaka. However, we visited Osaka only for a short two day trip, so we dropped the plan of visiting Osaka aquarium during our present trip. While watching the fishes in the small aquariums at Namba railway station, hubby joked that since we saw various cute beautiful fishes at Namba, there was no need to visit Osaka Aquarium!
Mini aquariums at Namba railway station

Hubby watching cute small tropical fishes inside freshwater aquarium

Hubby appreciating the rocks and colorful fishes inside saltwater aquarium

After coming out of Namba railway station, we walked for about five minutes and reached Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre. We saw a Japanese comedy show named ‘Yoshimoto Shinkigeiki’ at this theater. Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre plays host to traditional performing arts and entertainment since 1987. The theatre is run by Yoshimoto Kogyo, a company famed to provide employment to several hundreds of comedians. Yoshimoto Kogyo is the most famous and largest entertainment production company in Japan. Namba Grand Kagetsu theatre is a fine example of a variety theatre in Osaka and is a centre of laughter and entertainment. We can enjoy comedy performances such as manzai, rakugo, and shinkigeki at this theatre. Apart from comedy shows, the performances also involve lively songs and acrobatic stunts. The comedy shows are held twice a day and three times on Sundays and national holidays. However during New Year season, four shows are held in a day to cater to the large audience. The theater puts on performances all year round without any days off.
Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre and the street in front of the theater

The front of Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre

I will briefly explain about various kinds of comedy performances. Manzai is the Japanese stand-up comedy in which usually two or three performers carry on comic dialogues and trade jokes. Manzai originated in the 13th or 14th century. However, modern form of manzai developed in western Japan (Kansai) at the end of the 19th century. Performers are called manzaishi, and they try to make the audience laugh by their speech and gestures. Each performer has different parts in the dialogue. Boke is the part that says foolish things. Tsukkomi is the part that responds to the boke. Another type of comedy called rakugo is a traditional Japanese sit-down comedy, where a single performer tells a comic story. Rakugo originated at the end of the 17th century. The performer called rakugoka, dressed in a kimono, sits upright on zabuton (small square cushions) on tatami or floor and entertains the audience with clever narration and humorous facial expressions and body movements, with just a fan and hand towel as props. Yet another type of performance is known as shinkigeiki (new comedy). Shinkigeiki involves several performers and is well known for its outrageous onstage skits. By embracing the absurdity of life and the subtleties of human nature, the performance is full of sarcastic jokes, parodies, and slapstick comedy.

Hubby and I reached Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre at about 5.50 pm. We had already purchased the tickets for the comedy show from a convenience store in Yurihonjo city and so we did not have to stand in the long queue at ticket office counter of the theater. The tickets cost 5000 Yen per person. The evening show was scheduled to begin at 6.45 pm. Since there was almost an hour left for the show to begin, we visited a shop located at the first floor of the theater complex that sells various kinds of goods related to the comedy performers. We bought a few refrigerator magnets and key chains as souvenirs from this shop. We walked around the theater premises and hubby noticed a huge board that gave information and names of the comedy performers for that week. There were many famous performers and he wished that he could attend and enjoy all the shows! Later we went to a coffeehouse located inside the theater premises and had a chocolate cake and two cups of coffee. At about 6.35 pm, we left the coffeehouse and went inside the theater hall. Our seats were located in the first floor of the hall from where we got a nice and proper view of the stage.
A shop inside theater complex that sells goods related to the comedy performers

Hubby standing in front of a board that gave information about the comedy performers for that week

Chocolate cake and coffee at coffeehouse

Hubby drinking coffee at coffeehouse

Hubby and I enjoyed the comedy show. The show-goers were not allowed to take photos and videos of the comedy performance, and so unfortunately I do not have any photos. There were six manzai groups named Smile, Rozan, Shampoo-hat, Taira, The-Bonchi, and All Hanshin-Kyojin. The performance of each manzai group was very funny and we enjoyed it very much. In between the manzai shows, a ten year old boy performed wonderful acrobatic stunts. Next, a rakugo performer named Katsura Bunchin gave a very elegant and funny performance. The majority of rakugo monologues date back to the Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji (1868-1912) Periods, and much of the content reflects an entirely different lifestyle from that of today. I, being a foreigner, had some difficulty in understanding the rakugo performance. Earlier that night I had taken a rather heavy dinner, and so somehow I dozed off during rakugo performance. Later I regretted dozing off, but hubby told me that the performance would have been difficult for me to understand even if I was awake. Hubby woke me up after the rakugo performance. Shinkigeiki performance was the last comedy show of that day, which continued for 45 minutes. Several comedians performed an outrageous skit that was extremely funny and we could not stop laughing throughout shinkigeiki performance. The comedy show was over at 9.05 pm and all show-goers left the theater hall with smiles on their faces. Hubby and I enjoyed the entire comedy show and started the New Year with lots of laughter.
Information about the comedy show we attended

I have written the information about the comedy show in English

Adjacent to Namba Grand Kagetsu Theatre, there is a ramen shop named Kinryu Ramen. Hubby had a bowl of ramen here. He was not at all hungry but he wished to enjoy the taste of Kinryu Ramen. Kinryu Ramen is a family owned ramen shop chain having two more shops in Dotonbori Street. The chain is notable for its giant golden dragon billboard at the top front of the shop, as well as its seating arrangement consisting of raised tatami platforms. Kinryu Ramen is open 24 hours a day. The specialty of this chain is the white broth soup of ramen that has a distinctive tonkotsu taste with a whiff of seafood, though it is much lighter than original tonkotsu broth. The broth is actually a closely guarded secret family recipe. The ramen has toppings of chashu and sprinkling of scallions. In addition, the shop provides three unlimited free toppings: fresh garlic, hakusai kimchi, and nira chives kimchi. Hubby got a free bowl of rice also. He enjoyed the ramen very much.
The top front of Kinryu Ramen shop

I am sitting inside the ramen shop. Notice the raised tatami platforms in the background.

A bowl of Kinryu ramen along with free fresh garlic, kimchi, and a bowl of rice

Hubby eating ramen noodles

After hubby had a bowl of Kinryu Ramen, we walked back to Namba railway station. We had to walk through Namba shopping arcade, which was still bustling with people at 10 in the night. We took a train and finally returned back to our hotel near Shin-Osaka railway station at about 10.45 pm.

Namba shopping arcade

One more view of Namba shopping arcade

The next morning on 4th January, we took a flight from Itami Airport in Osaka at 8.55 am and reached Akita Airport at 10.15 am. We reached back home at about 11.30 am. Hubby and I had a nice time with relatives in Ichinomiya city and a memorable sightseeing experience in Osaka during the New Year holidays.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taiyuji Temple

As I wrote in the previous post, on 3rd January after visiting Shitennoji Temple, hubby and I visited Taiyuji Temple located in the middle of downtown Umeda in Osaka prefecture. From Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka railway station, we took Osaka city subway Tanimachi line train to reach Higashi Umeda railway station. Taiyuji Temple is a five minute walk from this station.

Taiyuji Temple belongs to Koyasan Shingon shu sect of Buddhism and was founded in 821 by Kobodaishi. The principal image of the temple is a thousand-armed statue of goddess kannon named Honzon senju kanzeon bosatsu who is known to alleviate the suffering of all people. This statue was the nenjibutsu of Emperor Saga (786-842 A.D.) who later presented it to the temple. A nenjibutsu is a Buddhist statue which is kept at close proximity for personal daily worship. Later, son of Emperor Saga, Minamoto no Toru (822-895 A.D.; also known as poet Kawara no Sadaijin), had a full set of temple buildings constructed in the extensive precincts of the temple. The temple flourished for several centuries. However the temple was in favor of Toyotomi clan, so it was burned down in the battle between Edo Tokugawa Shogunate and Toyotomi clan in the summer war of Osaka of 1615. During the Genroku era (1688-1703) of Edo period, about 25 structures of the temple precincts including Hondou and Nandaimon were reconstructed. Unfortunately, the temple buildings were again razed in the massive air raid on Osaka during World War II in 1945. After the war, temple buildings were reconstructed once again. About 20 structures and buildings like Hondou, Ichigandou, Taishidou, etc were reconstructed as seen today. The statue of goddess kannon (principal image) and a stone statue of the deity Fudoumyouou escaped damage during many wars and fires, and are still enshrined in the temple premises.

Taiyuji Temple is the historic place where the democratic movement of Japan began. In 1878, Itagaki Taisuke and other important political figures from all over Japan gathered in Osaka and started Freedom and People's Rights Movement, which expanded to entire Japan. They formed a political party called Aikokusha (Society of patriots), which is considered to be the predecessor of Liberal Party (Meiji Period) that Itagaki founded in 1881. In March 1880, the fourth convention of Aikokusha Party was held at this temple precinct and an alliance was formed to petition the Meiji government to establish a National Diet and constitution. Again in October 1884, the final convention of Liberal Party (Meiji Period) was held at this temple.

After walking for about five minutes from Higsahi Umeda station, we reached Nishimon Gate (West Gate) of Taiyuji Temple. There were two beautiful inscribed stone slabs on either side of the gate. We walked around the temple premises and saw an information notice board giving a map and position of various buildings in the precincts, which was very useful for us.
Nishimon Gate

Hubby standing next to the information board of Taiyuji Temple

First we visited Hondou main hall of the temple. It was reconstructed in 1960. Exquisite carvings of a dragon and a wooden framed temple sign plaque (hengaku) beautify the top front of the main hall. The principal image of the temple, a thousand-armed statue named Honzon senju kanzeon bosatsu, is enshrined in this hall. This statue was the nenjibutsu of Emperor Saga during the Heian period. Two additional (wakibutsu) Buddha statues called Jizou bosatsu and Bishamonten are placed on either side of the main statue.
Hondou main hall and other temple buildings

Hondou main hall and an incense cauldron

Carvings of a dragon and a wooden framed hengaku plaque at the top front of the main hall

Altar at Hondou main hall

Statue of Honzon senju kanzeon bosatsu at the main hall

Hondou west side view

Next, we visited a pagoda called Houtou that is located adjacent to Hondou main hall. Houtou was reconstructed in 1986. The architecture and design of the pagoda is fascinating. A statue of Dainichi Nyorai is enshrined inside Houtou. Dainichi Nyorai is considered to be cosmic supreme deity of esoteric sect of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.
Houtou pagoda

Beautiful architecture of the pagoda

A hall named Ichigandou is located in the first floor of Houtou pagoda. Ichigandou was reconstructed in 1954. The hall has a huge standing stone statue of deity Honzon Fudoumyouou, who is considered to be a personification of Dainichi Nyorai. The deity at this temple is also known as Ichiganfudou. Fudoumyouou converts anger into salvation, is the destroyer of delusion, and is immovable in faith and carnal temptations. It has a furious glaring face as it seeks to frighten people into accepting the teachings of Dainichi Buddha. Fudoumyouou statue is flanked by two statues of attendants (wakibutsu) called Kongara douji and Seitaka douji. People pray to Fudoumyouou for achieving success, fulfillment, accomplishment of goals, gain monetary fortune, and for all wishes to come true. A fire ritual called goma (or homa) is performed to invoke deity Fudoumyouou for his blessings, burning away passions, and for seeking wisdom. Every year on May 28th, goma service named saitohoma is held at this temple. The original statue of Fudoumyouou escaped damage during many wars and fires through the centuries, and is enshrined in an inner sanctuary called Okunoin in front of Ichigandou hall. I prayed in front of the statues of Fudoumyouou in Ichigandou hall as well as Okunoin for peace and success of my family. I also lit candles and incense sticks in the hall. It was rather dark inside Ichigandou but there was a calm, quite, and holy atmosphere.
Inside Ichigandou hall

Okunoin sanctuary in front of Ichigandou hall

Me lighting a candle inside Ichigandou hall

Me lighting incense sticks inside Ichigandou hall

After offering our prayers, we went to omikuji fortune stall at Gokushou building located right in front of Ichigandou hall. I was rather eager to know hubby’s fortune. So after paying a small sum to draw the fortune, hubby shook a cylindrical box containing bamboo sticks with numbers until the tip of a stick with a number poked its way through the hole at the top of the box. A shrine staff looked at the number and then gave him a strip of paper corresponding to the number on the stick. The strip of paper showed ‘normal luck and fortune’. Later hubby tied this strip of paper to string on a frame set up at the temple ground next to Gokushou building.
Hubby taking out a numbered bamboo stick from a cylindrical box while trying omikuji

Hubby reading omikuji fortune written on a strip of paper

Hubby tying his strip of paper to a string on a frame

To the east of Hondou main hall just adjacent to Gokushou building, a statue of Yakuyoke Kobodaishi is located. Kobodaishi was a monk, scholar, poet, artist, and founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism. He founded Taiyuji Temple in 821, and is revered as the most holy of Buddhist priests to eradicate various evils.
Statue of Yakuyoke Kobodaishi

To the east of Hondou main hall just adjacent to the statue of Kobodaishi, eight hand prayer wheels called Mani wheels (pronounced as manisha or manikuruma in Japanese) stand in a row. A prayer wheel is a hollow cylindrical wheel on a spindle with sutra written on it. Mani wheels of this temple are made of metal and have been gifted by Nepal as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. A message from Nepal explaining about Mani wheel is framed on a board and hangs on a stand under the prayer wheels. Spinning the prayer wheel is supposed to have the same meritorious effect as orally chanting the prayers. Hubby took a photo of me standing next to the prayer wheels as he was very amused to see ‘Manisha standing next to manisha’.
Manisha standing next to manisha

A framed message from Nepal explaining about Mani wheel

Later we went to the area of the temple near Nishimon Gate. In this area, there is a small shrine named Hakuryudaijin having a bright vermilion colored Torii gate. The god of this shrine is believed to be a god of matchmaking and marriage. Next to this shrine is a stone statue of Buddha named Bokefuji kannon who is believed to provide protection against senile dementia. With an increasing number of elderly people in Japan, this kannon is becoming more and more popular nowadays. Adjacent to this Buddha statue is a memorial service tower for soldiers who died in World War II. In this area of the temple, there is another tower named Taiyuji eitai kuyoutou for eternal peace and repose of departed souls.
Temple premises near Nishimon Gate

Hakuryudaijin shrine

Statue of Bokefuji Kannon

Memorial service tower for soldiers who died in World War II

Taiyuji eitai kuyoutou tower

To the left of Nishimon Gate, in the north-west corner of the temple precincts, there is tomb of Yododono called Yododono no haka. Yododono was a prominently placed figure in late Sengoku period, and was the most favored concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. She committed suicide when Osaka Castle was burned down in the summer war of Osaka of 1615. Initially, she was buried in a small shrine named Benten Hokora (also called Bentenjima) in the grounds outside Osaka Castle. This shrine was also known as Yodohime jinja. In 1877, during the construction of a military parade ground complex named joutou-renpeijou in the castle grounds (present day Osaka Castle Park) by Meiji army, the grave of Yododono was moved to the present location in Taiyuji Temple. The tomb was initially a nine-ringed stone tower. However in a fire during World War II, the tomb suffered damage and three rings of the stone tower were lost. Our main reason to visit Taiyuji Temple was to see the tomb of Yododono. Hubby and I prayed in front of the tomb.
Yododono no haka

Information about the tomb of Yododono

Me praying in front of the tomb of Yododono

Finally, we visited the bell tower located on the left side of Nishimon Gate inside the temple precincts. The belfry (Shoro) was reconstructed in 1973. However, the bell (Bonsho) is much older and was built in 1675. The belfry looked beautiful. The bell has an inscription written by mid-Edo period Priest Kousou Jougon Wajou. Since we visited the temple during the New Year season, we were allowed to ring the bell. Hubby rang the temple bell very enthusiastically, and I compiled a video of it.

Belfry Shoro

Bonsho bell

Video of hubby ringing the temple bell (please increase the sound volume to maximum)

After seeing the bell tower, we left the temple premises and walked back to Higsahi Umeda railway station. Hubby saw the map of the area in a Japanese guidebook and realized that there was a famous local shrine named Tsuyunoten Jinja in the neighborhood, and so we visited this shrine. In the evening, we went to see a Japanese comedy show performance at Namba Grand Kagetsu Theater in Yoshimoto Kogyo Building located in Namba. I will write about these in the next post.