Buddhist pray at Isshinji Temple

Skeleton Columbarium at Isshinji Temple (Osaka)

On March 1 I was just walking around Osaka by foot after visiting Osaka Tennoki Zoo. At the outskirts of the zoo not far from Shitennoji temple,  I came across another Buddhist temple called Isshinji.

Near the temple was Skeleton Columbarium (納骨堂). It’s a place holding a deceased’s cremated remains. Even in the official website that place is dubbed ‘納骨堂’. which translates to ‘Columbarium’ in English.

The essence sticks were throwing smoke quite strong, creating this powerful holy atmosphere. This is a place of worship, and Buddhist were there praying at that time.

I wanted to capture that unique atmosphere on camera while trying to be as discreet as possible to not interfere with anyone. This is, by the way, another reason why I want an optical zoom camera. You can’t just stick your phone into people’s faces, that’s rude. In some of the images, because I was capturing it with my phone, I had to use digital zoom, unfortunately.

I really liked the ‘Skeleton Hall’. It has beautiful white candles lit up and a big essence chamber that was the reason it threw so much smoke into the air.

Let’s take a look at the photos of the Skeleton Hall (お骨佛堂) at Isshin-ji Buddhist temple.

I went to the official website (isshinji.or.jp) of Isshinji Temple to read more about, including Wikipedia. I’ve read that Isshin-ji is a Pure Land Buddhist temple in Osaka. It was founded in the 12th century. It was destroyed in World War II and reconstructed.

The area itself is quite big. I was capturing those photos at one part of the temple. Like in Shitennoji temple (Osaka), here you can also found two Nio guardians at the gate entrance of the temple.

In Isshinji temple you can find statues built using human ashes. Each of the statues was built using ashes of about 150,000 people. This fact attracts many tourists to visit the temple, in order to see the Okotsu Botsu ((お骨佛), the ‘Bone Buddhas’ statues that were made using the remains of tens of thousands of people’s remains.

There are a total of 13 sculptures. Six of them were lost in the war. There are now seven ‘bone Buddhas’. The seventh one is constructed using fragments of the first six statues and ashes of further 220,000 people. It’s constructed finished at 1947. The last one (No. 13) was completed in 2007 from the ashes of 163,254 people. The 14th is underway.

Since ancient times, there was a tradition of giving the remains and hair of the deceased to a temple. Truly a merit Buddha with a fusion of adoration with the spirit of ancestral ancestry.

The entire complex is exciting and you feel like you arrived at a special place. My visit there was special because I haven’t seen anything like that in Japan previously. There is an interesting history to that place that makes it stand out from many of the other temples that I’ve visited.

When I got there I didn’t know the place. I read about it once I was there and then I know why so many people attended this place, including tourists. This place was very close to my Airbnb room, so I visited it several times during my stay in Japan.

If you are in the area in Osaka or stay in Kyoto, I recommend visiting Isshinji Temple






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