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The next stop on our journey through Osaka highlights an attraction that is arguably hidden yet undoubtedly a gem within the heart of Osaka’s bustling main district.
Imamiya Ebisu shrine is located right next to Imamiyaebisu Station or a 5 minute walk from Namba itself. It’s known as Ebessan to most locals and seen as a bedrock of central Osaka. That’s easy to understand when you find out that it was built in the year 600 at which time Kyoto didn’t exist and it would be another 800 years before Tokyo would start getting built.
Originally this shrine was built in conjunction with Shitennoji as its western counterpart. It’s said to house Buddhist god of fishing Yebisu. These days he is best known as the stoutly guy relaxing on the front of one of Japan’s most popular premium beer aptly labeled Yebisu. However, as the demographics and environments changed in the area it is mostly dedicated towards business and commerce these days.
This temple is quite striking in comparison to its rather drab surroundings and you can feel the history of it as soon as you cross the gate.
Although the temple is great in its own right the annual Ebisu festival is when things really fire up and the temple is at the centre of a massive festival that see’s around 1 million visitors over 3 days from January 9th to 11 th.
Locals bring along a branch from a bamboo tree that they received the previous year, this branch is said to have provided the previous year’s good fortune and safety. Its fate is sealed to go up in flames and a new blessed branch is taken for the coming years luck.
In Japanese culture bamboo is considered a vessel for the gods partly due to its considered purity as a plant as well being very resilient to whatever nature might throw at it, and thus the branches (a symbol for life) are free to sprout from the safety of the trunk. These are the branches plucked from the trees and handed out by shrine maidens.
You can also taste a lot of delicious food from the hundreds of stalls lining the streets as well as see some musical or comedy acts.