Osu Kannon started life under the rather unwieldy name of Kitanosan Shinpuku-ji Hoshio-in. It was originally built in the early 1300s in the Owari Province of yesteryear, in a small village called Nagaoka, which is known today as Hashima City in Gifu Prefecture.
In 1612, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the temple to be moved to a new site in Nagoya City, due to numerous floods. It has stayed in its current location for more than 400 years, but not without incident. A large fire destroyed much of the temple in the 1820s, and it was not fully restored to its former glory until the 1970s, but since then it has been a centrepiece of Nagoya culture and draws in huge crowds every day.
The Temple grounds are rather humble when compared to other sites in and around Nagoya, but there is no denying how striking the bright red temple looks. Inside there is a gargantuan red paper lantern, fastened to the wall by four ropes. Fortune papers (or omikuji) brought by visitors cover the lantern and fastenings, shimmering with the hopes and prayers of the faithful.
On New Year's Eve, the temple is surrounded by food stalls and huge crowds. People queue for hours for a chance to pray inside the temple, and at the stroke of midnight, a huge metal bell is rung to mark the arrival of the New Year. The atmosphere is a fantastic mix of bustling crowds and happy well-wishers, cold hands clasping hot sake and steaming foods. If you are in Japan for New Year's Eve, Osu Kannon is a must see.
- 2 Chome-21-47 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0011
- A minute’s walk from Osu Kannon subway station