Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
Namba's Hozenji - A Temple WIth A Dreamy Atmosphere And Lively Alleys
Hozenji Temple in Osaka is a place with an enchanting atmosphere at night. After taking a walk on the alleys around the temple you can taste the good-luck bringing red bean soup of the famous restaurant Meotozenzai.
Written by 1538th
Looking for a place to enjoy sightseeing at the end of the day? In times like these, how about visiting Hozen Temple (Hozenji), which is located in the Namba area of Osaka? Lit up by lanterns with subtle light, it's a temple enshrouded in a dreamy atmosphere at night time. After you pay your respects at the main hall, let's take a walk on the alleys around Hozenji.
Even if we say let's go for a walk, you'll probably find the stone pavement path quite mesmerizing.
Visiting a Temple at Night
If you enter into the back alleys of Namba's downtown area, you'll find a temple called Hozenji.
During the day, it's a town temple where locals and travelers alike come visit, but if you come here at night you can enjoy a completely different scenery.
There aren't many temples and shrines where you can come visit at night year round. A temple lit by lanterns at night looks like a scene from a dream.
A special feeling that you used to feel as a child during summer festivals comes drifting towards you. People coming out from the nearby restaurants get drawn and come here to pray.
Hozenji - Protected by a Unique Statue of Fudo Myoo
Hozen temple is also called "The Fudo of Water" because of its special Fudo Myoo (*1) statue.
*1... Fudoo Myoo: One of the guardian deities of Buddhism.
It7s usual to offer water at other temples and shrines, but from some time ago it has become a custom to pour water on the Fudo Myoo statue of this temple, as an offering. That is why the temple came to be called the "Fudo of Water".
That's why the Fudo Myoo statue looks like this.
It has been receiving prayers and offerings of water for a long time, so it's covered in moss.
It doesn't bring good fortune just to common prayers, but also to those involved in all kinds of entertainment and amusement business, so people come to pray at night too. The Japanese word for water (水, mizu) is part of the word that refers to the entertainment business (mizushobai).
*It's dangerous in the middle of the night, so we recommend going to visit at a time that's not too late.
Go on a Stroll on the Stone Paved Alley
Nearby there is the Hozenji alley. This hospitable stone pavement alley has dining places, okonomiyaki shops, bars, snack bars, and other restaurants lined up on its both sides.
It's an alley where there used to be food stalls during the temple festivals in the past, and now it has become a restaurant town alley. The old shops and the new shops alike have a gentle and calm atmosphere to them.
There are many older shops and high-end shops, but the okonomiyaki restaurants and izakayas are very affordable. From outside you will be able to hear the voices of the people who come after work or live nearby, enjoying themselves with drinks and conversation.
The stone pavement reflecting the light around is very beautiful.
You can have fun just walking around aimlessly.
Tasting the Sweet Meoto-zenzai (Bean Soup with Sugar and Rice Cakes)
The alley around Hozenji is famous for being the setting of various songs and folk tales. As you're walking around, you'll see standing billboards that explain the folktales and monuments engraved with short poems.
A particularly well-known story is Oda Sonosuke's novel "Meotozenzai".
Meoto-zenzai is the specialty of a red bean soup restaurant on the Hozen Temple's grounds. Let's try it right away.
At the former restaurant called Ofuko, which was opened during the Meiji period (1868 - 1912), they used to put one bowl worth of red bean soup into two wooden bowls and offer it to customers. The two wooden bowls together becoming a complete set was compared to a couple - husband and wife. It's said that this is why it became popular.
In the novel "Meotozenzai", there is a conversation between Ryukichi and Choko, the main characters who are husband and wife.
Ryukichi: You see? Because they put little by little in two bowls, it looks like there's more than there would be in one heaping bowl. They thought it out really well.
Choko: They want to say that it's better being husband and wife than being alone.
It's an example of the candid type of dialogue that is specific to Osaka.
Eat One Serving per Person (= 2 Bowls) and You'll Have a Happy Marriage!
The two wooden bowls with one piece of rice cake floating in each of them arrive as a friendly pair.
The gentle smell of the red bean soup and its sweetness remind the locals of the red bean soups from long ago. It goes perfectly with tea flavored with salted sea kelp (kombu-cha). It's so tasty that you would be tempted to eat two bowls.
However, one serving per person (= two bowls) is the proper way to eat this soup and sharing one serving with another person is said to bring bad luck. If a husband and wife or two lovers each eat one serving, it's said to bring a happy relationship, while if you eat a bowl by yourself it's supposed to bring a fulfilling love.
The store is open until 10 P.M. When visiting Osaka, come and enjoy a night time walk at Hozenji and taste the Meoto-zenzai.
Hozen Temple (Hozenji)
Address: Osaka prefecture, Osaka city, Chuo ward, Namba 1-2-16
Nearest station: Namba Station on the Midosuji subway line
Access: 5-minute walk straight through the alley from the exit 14 of Namba Station, located between namBa HIPS and Family Mart.
Phone number: +81-3-06-6211-4152
Official Website: http://houzenji.jp/ (Japanese)
Address: Osaka city, Chuo ward, Namba 1-2-10
Hours: 10:00 - 22:00
Closed: Open year round
Credit cards: Unknown
Languages: English/Chinese/Korean (displayed on the menu)
Menu in other languages: Unknown
Nearest station: Shiei Subway Midosuji line Namba station
Access: 5-minute walk from exit 14, right next to Hozen Temple
Price Range: Around 800 yen for Meotozenzai
Phone number: +81-3-06-6211-6455
Official Website: http://www.sato-restaurant-systems.co.jp/zenzai/zen/