Shoryo-e – Watch a 1000-year-old Dance Ritual in Osaka’s Shitennoji



When spring comes to Japan, many fun events such as Doll Festivals (Hina Matsuri) and Flower Viewing Celebrations (Hanami) take place. Every year in April in Shittenoji temple in Osaka a unique festival takes places. This festival is Shoryo-e. The performances at this ceremony reflect Bugaku, a courtly dance accompanied by ancient court music (gagaku) and Buddhist chanting. In this article, I would like to take a closer look at this traditional event and tell you how to enjoy it!

What is Shoryo-e?

Shoryo-e is a festival that where you can experience Japanese traditional music – “Bugaku (舞楽)” and “Gagaku (雅楽)”  along with traditional dances and four Buddhist ceremonies. It takes place on April 22nd (February 22nd by the lunar calendar until the Edo period), which is the death anniversary of Prince Shotoku. This festival is held at Shitennoji temple which is related to Prince Shotoku and quells his soul. This “Bugaku” music is an important intangible folk cultural property since 1976.

The History of Shoryo-e

Shoryo-e has been going on as a memorial ceremony for Prince Shotoku on his death anniversary for about 1400 years. People never stopped loving this fascinating festival, and its wonderfulness and the high performance of the Shitennoji Troupe are highly valued at Teika Fujiwara’s “Meigetsuki (名月記)” and Kenko Yoshida’s “Tsurezuregusa (徒然草)”. Even nowadays, its style has hardly changed and you can still see and hear original Gagaku and four Buddhist ceremonies (Bonon(梵音), Uta(唄), Syakujo(錫杖), Sange(散華)). However, the number of performances of Bugaku decreased a little. Currently, you can only hear 10 songs (about 5 hours) instead of 25 songs (about 10 hours) in the past.

The Main Attractions of Shoryo-e

Picture Hall

A lot of paintings related to Prince Shotoku are stored in the hall located in a corner of Shitennoji Temple. Among them, the mural painting depicting the life of Prince Shotoku. You can see this painting only on the 22nd day of every month. Please drop by when you come to see Shoryo-e.

Antique City

On the day of the Holy Spirit, you will notice the antique city and the various stalls. During this fair, you can buy many traditional Japanese things like kimonos, Japanese coats, belts, sandals, clogs, and Japanese dolls at a reasonable price. This is a perfect place to buy traditional souvenirs!

Bugaku of Shoryo-e

The best recommendation at Shoryo-e festival is “Bugaku of Shoryo-e”. You will see a solid stone stage of Shitennoji Temple with beautiful decorations of the embellishment of Lycoris radiata, and brilliant Bugaku dance on this stage.

Details and Access:

Date: April 22nd, every year

Place: Shitennoji Temple

Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture

Official website (Japanese only): http://www.shitennoji.or.jp/ 


Picture Hall, Central Gallery, Moriya Shrine Opening hours:  8: 30 ~ 16: 30

Antique city: 8: 30 ~ 16: 00 (In the ground of Shitennoji temple)

Bugaku of Shoryo-e: The performance takes place around 12: 30 ~ 18: 00 (Rokujido Stone Stage).


By Train

12 minutes’ walk from Tennoji Station (JR loop line). 5minutes’ walk from Shitennojimae-yuhigaoka Station (Subway Tanimachi Line)

By Car

About 10 minutes from Humi-no-Sato exit of Hanshin Expressway No. 14 Matsubara line.

Closing Remarks

If you are a fan of Japanese history Sgiryo-e is a must-see event indeed. Even though you have no clue about the history, this event will provide you with an excellent opportunity to admire traditional dances and costumes that almost haven’t changed for more than a thousand years. Please participate in this festival when you come to see cherry blossom in Osaka.

If you would like to see this festival with a knowledgeable local guide who will also show you around Oskaka, please click on the banner below!

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Hi,I'm Aki from Nara.I like to introduce foreign tourist about Japanese festival,especially Nara and Kyoto.

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