Updated: Feb 8, 2019
One of Japan’s oldest temple’s in Osaka houses a unique Japanese rock garden, or karesansui, in Shitennoji. The “Fudaraku Garden” in Shitennoji Temple is the first temple ever built by the state in 593 by Prince Shotoku, the person responsible for introducing Buddhism to Japan.
I have specifically called this a “Japanese Rock Garden” and not “Zen Rock Garden” because the difference needs to be highlighted. Far too often we confuse any rock garden with it being rooted in Zen Buddhism. There are many kinds of Buddhism in Japan and Zen is only one form. Similarly there are many kinds of rock gardens; some of them are zen rock gardens, some are associated with other branches of Buddhism, some are at Shinto Shrines, and others have zero religious affiliation at all. So by definition, Zen gardens are only those gardens found within Zen Buddhist Temples.
Fudaraku Garden is affiliated with Shitennoji temple, which is the headquarters of the Washu sect of Buddhism. “Fudaru” represents the Pure Land, which is inhabited by Kannon Bosatsu, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
The temple buildings were burned down several times throughout history, even as recently as the Second World War, but they were always rebuilt in a way that reflected the original design.
This rock garden has an interesting layout of stepping stones that go through the racked gravel. The gravel represents the "ocean" and the rocks often symbolize mountains. In this picture you can see how the gardeners have pruned a few large shrubs to completely surround and nestle in a large boulder. The taller pine trees in the back represent clouds in the distance.
A nobedan is a type Japanese pathway that is often paved with a variety of different size stones and cut granite or stone. Interestingly, this nobedan curves because most examples you will see are often straight.
Many Japanese rock gardens like this one in Shitennoji aim to create a scene, often of a place throughout history or a famous place in China. They make use of artificial hills, or tsukiyama, to represent large mountains. Often there is some type of waterfall or even just a symbolic cry rock garden waterfall.
The rock garden "Fudaraku Garden"is within a larger Japanese garden within the Shitennoji Temple walls. Check out this article on the whole "Paradise" garden in "Japanese Garden in Shitennoji Temple: Gokuraku-Jodo Garden."
Shitennoji Temple Opening Hours
8:30 to 16:30 (until 16:00 from October through March).
Frequent closures, particularly during the first ten days of many months.
Shitennoji Temple Japanese Garden Admission Fee:
Shitennoji Temple Flea Market (Daishi-e/Taishi-e)
Many temples and shrines in Japan hold flea markets and these can be a great place to find some really interesting things. Antiques, old clothing, swords, coins…you name it, can all be found here often with a good price too. At Shitennoji temple it is also a festival commemorating the anniversaries of the deaths of the revered monk Kukai and Prince Shotoku. There are approximately 300 shops and stands set up for the 2 days. Date: 21 and 22 of every month Open hours: 8:30 a.m. - all day Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji Tennoji-ku Osaka-city
Getting to Shitennoji Temple:
a short walk from the Shitennoji-mae Yuhigoaka of Tennoji Station.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the Japanese rock garden: Fudaraku Garden of Osaka and if you'd like to see more about Japanese gardens please visit us at ShizenStyle.