Shitennôji monastery, (in) Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, JP

Raw data

“The oldest officially administered temple in Japan, Shitennoji was built by Prince Shotoku (574-622 A.D.), the great cultural hero of early Japanese history who at the age of sixteen successfully triumphed over the opposition and brought about the adoption of Buddhism in the country … . And it was to mark that victory that in 593 A.D. he ordered the construction of Shitennoji Temple. The temple was built not far from Osaka Bay, which played a vital role in trade and traffic. It was a strategic location which enabled a show of Japan’s power and prosperity to the world. Despite repeated reconstructions, the layout of the temple compound has remained largely unchanged from the beginning.”

-“Osaka- Info: Shitennoji”

“Shitennoji temple: Founded in 587 by Prince Shotoku, this temple 
is presently the head temple of the Wa sect of Buddhism, a sub-sect
of the Tendai school. This temple was built to enshrine statues of the 
four Shitenno, or “Four Heavenly Kings” (the Buddhist protective gods 
or Shoten Zenjin of: Jikokuten, Komokuten, Bishamonten and Zojoten), 
hence its name.”

-“The Youthful Priest Zesho-bo Rencho”

Shitennoji was not central to seventh-century Japanese buddhist institutions until the rise of the "Shôtoku Taishi" cult in the late 7th, early 8th centuries.
- McCallum (2009): "introduction" 4

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, July 16, 2012

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 30 Sep 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Shitennoji monastery, JP.

General location of the Shitennoji monastery, JP.
lat=34.6542 long=135.5164
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2012.

Google Map link:,%20JP)&ll=34.6542,135.5164&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Shitennôji 四天王寺. Alternative English spelling: Shitennoji, Shitennô-ji

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Japan: District of Osaka (equivalent to prefecture)

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 34.6542, Long 135.5164 - based on the visual identification of the site in maps and satellite imagery of - tmciolek, 17 Jul 2012.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • Naniwa

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • Tendai: Wa-shû (Wa sub-sect) - Uryû (2003: 238)
  • Sôtô sect from 1444 to Edo period - Tamamuro (1992: 322)

11. Date-early

  • Founded 593 - Uryû (2003: 238)

MBM chrono-tag 0567-99c - tmciolek 30 Sep 2013
0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • Shitennôji was destroyed by the Allied firebombing of Osaka in 1945, but one Yakushi icon survived, a legacy of Emperor Shirakawa’s patronage in 1077 -Tamamuro (1992: 322)

MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 30 Sep 2013

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • After Tendai founder Saichô’s death, monks of Enryakuji became lecturers at Hôryûji and Shittenôji. Ennin lectured on the Lotus Sutra and the Sutra of the Benevolent King at Shitennôji – Groner (2002: 8, 16)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Documents, architecture

16. Additional notes

  • Shittenôji was a large monastery during the Heian period (794–1185). In the 11th century, it occupied an area of 178 chô (= 176.5 hectares) 8 tan 26 bu. The Fujiwara clan donated the Yakushi-dô (Hall of the Healing Buddha) in 1146 and 500 kan of fiefs in 1183 -Tamamuro (1992: 322)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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