As I have mentioned several times in the past, one of my most enjoyable pastimes is simply to get out on my days off and enjoy exploring some new area. These days I have been trying to get to know a little more about the local areas where my students come from.
My STAG (short term achievable goal) for this spring is to try and visit each station on the two main Kintetsu Lines, 近鉄線, lines where my students come from and spend… a day there walking around and finding interesting spots to enjoy. Just grab a camera, a notebook, buy a ticket and head for the station with no definite plan except to walk around and explore. My students at Smiths School of English in Fuse スミス英会話布施 often help me with suggestions on good places to visit or nice shops for lunch. It’s a fun activity and it helps me to get to know my students better.
A recent exploration took me to Ishikiri Shrine 石切神社, also known as Ishikiri Tsurugiya Jinja, 石切劔箭神社, located at Kintetsu Ishikiri Station,近鉄石切駅, on the Kintetsu Nara Line, 近鉄奈良線, about 20 minutes east of Kintetsu Namba Station, 近鉄難波駅. One way fare is just a little over ¥300.
Upon arriving, just head out of the south exit and you will see signs pointing the way to Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, which is located about a 15 minute walk downhill from Ishikiri Station. I should mention that the view of Osaka City looking down from Ishikiri Station is something worth seeing on its own, and the night view is even more amazing. Bring a camera!
Walking from the station down to Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, will make you feel like you have just stepped into a “time warp”. Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, itself was established in 658 and the area seems like it has remained unchanged for eons. The walk down to Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, also known as the Ishikiri Shoutengai ,石切商店街, is along a narrow street lined with nostalgic shops featuring noodles, sweets, Chinese herbal medicines and numerous fortune-telling shops. What I did not see however were any pachinko parlors, chain restaurants or convenience stores.
Take time to savor the sounds and smells on your way to Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, and perhaps stop and enjoy some traditional Japanese sweets , 和菓子, and a cup of hot green tea. Maybe even venture into a fortune-telling shop and have your palm read. Palm readings are reasonable at between ¥500 and ¥1000. No English spoken but I was informed that they will speak simpler Japanese for those whose vocabulary is not so highly developed!
Check out Ishikiri Fortune Teller’s Town: 石切神社の占い師の町
Upon arriving at Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社 you will immediately notice the imposing statues of the God of Fire and Buddha at the entrance. After this you will probably see crowds of people walking in a continuous circle in front of the shrine while holding small pieces of paper in their hands and looking very focused. My curiosity was peaked so I immediately had to find out the meaning.
I learned that in Japanese this is called ‘ohyakudo-mairi’, お百度参り, which means a person will walk around the 2 stones which are placed at opposite ends in front of Ishikiri Shrine 石切神社 100 times while praying. The reason being is Ishikiri Shrine 石切神社 represents the Shinto god of illness and disease and it is considered the holiest shrine in Kansai 関西. These people are intently praying for a loved one who has fallen sick to a serious illness and it is important to be careful not to accidentally step into the line of people which are circulating these stones. The best way to enter the area is to walk to the left and continue to explore the shrine grounds which are in the back.
After enjoying Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, take your time on the walk back to the station to once again savor the atmosphere of the many shops and constant activity on the narrow street. Also, the walk back is uphill so you may have no choice but to take your time depending on the condition of your legs.
I took my time …
Here are some informative sites on the “not so famous” but “very famous” Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社, located in East Osaka 東大阪.
http://www.ishikiri.or.jp/top.html Ishikiri Shrine Homepage
http://www.isikiri.com/index.html Ishikiri Town Homepage
Alessandro “Alex” Stanciu
Smith’s School of English Fuse
月謝制 の スミス 英会話 布施 校