Saved by a shogun, tranquil Osu Kannon offers offbeat festivals, antique markets, and global cuisine.
In the heart of Nagoya’s capital of cool, Osu Kannon Temple is an oasis of historical spirituality that serves as a relaxing stop before diving into the shopping, dining, and nightlife of the city. With its rich history, unique festivals, and diverse culinary scene, Osu Kannon is a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists alike.
Osu Kannon Temple, Nagoya’s primary Buddhist temple, is located just outside Osu Kannon Station, a 12-minute subway ride from Nagoya Station. The temple was originally built in 1333 in modern-day Gifu Prefecture but was later transferred to Nagoya by shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in order to save it from repeated flooding.
As you approach the temple, you will be greeted by a striking red facade that stands out amidst the bustling shopping district. The temple’s architecture exudes a sense of calm and tranquility, offering visitors a moment of respite from the busy city. The current temple is a 20th-century reconstruction, as the original building was destroyed in a fire in the 1820s.
The focal point of worship at Osu Kannon is a wooden statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The statue is said to have been carved by Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. It miraculously survived the fires that destroyed much of the original building. The temple also houses the Shinpukuji Library, which contains over 15,000 classical Japanese and Chinese texts, including seven of the oldest known handwritten copies of the Kojiki, the chronicle of japan‘s early history and myths compiled in 712.
Throughout the year, Osu Kannon and the nearby shopping arcade are the venues for various events and festivals. One of the most popular events is the Setsubun festival, which takes place on February 3rd. During this festival, monks shower beans on the public from raised platforms outside the temple to ward off bad luck and welcome the coming of spring. Another notable event is the St. Patrick’s Day parade, where Nagoya’s Irish community parades through the arcade to celebrate their heritage. In October, the Osu Street Performers Festival takes place, showcasing the talents of artists, musicians, and acrobats from around the world.
If you happen to be in Nagoya on the 18th or 28th of the month, don’t miss the Osu antique markets held in the temple grounds and the neighboring streets. These markets feature around 60 stalls selling souvenirs, antiques, fine arts, and kitsch. The Banshoji temple, located at the other end of the shopping arcade, also hosts a similar market on the 28th and is home to a unique mechanical puppet show.
Osu Kannon is not only a place of historical and cultural significance but also a shopper’s paradise. The district is known for its alternative and outlandish style, earning it the reputation as Nagoya’s own Harajuku and Akihabara combined. As you stroll through the bustling arcade, you’ll encounter locals donning outrageous street fashions, shopping for their next sartorial statement. The area is home to numerous secondhand fashion stores, souvenir shops, and retro toy and game stores, offering a unique shopping experience.
When it comes to food, Osu Kannon does not disappoint. The streets are filled with the enticing aromas of various stalls selling fried chicken, takoyaki, Turkish kebabs, and more. You’ll also find an open-air Brazilian kitchen, Osso Brasil, offering a taste of South America. In the summer, shaved ice and bubble tea stands are a must-try to beat the heat. Whether you’re in the mood for a chic bar serving craft beers or a traditional Nagoya cuisine restaurant, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your culinary cravings.
Osu Kannon Temple offers a unique blend of history, spirituality, shopping, and dining. It’s a place where ancient traditions meet modern trends, creating a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere. Whether you’re seeking a moment of tranquility, a cultural experience, or a shopping adventure, Osu Kannon has something for everyone. So, make sure to add this hidden gem to your Nagoya itinerary and discover the beauty and charm of this offbeat destination.
Address And Maps Location:
2-21-47 Osu, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi-ken