The Most Beautiful Public Sculptures in Osaka

Photo of Elizabeth Lee
22 November 2016

While Osaka has no shortage of art museums and galleries, you don’t necessarily have to pay the entrance fees to see beautiful sculptures in the city. Here, we explore some of the best places to see statues and sculptures displayed in Osaka’s free public spaces.

Osakan temple | © Laura Tomàs Avellana/Flickr

Street statues at Midosuji

For the largest collection of public statues, look no further than Midosuji street, one of the major shopping streets near Shinsaibashi. Pedestrians walking along this avenue of high-street shops must share the pavement with 27 sculptures. Designed by both local and international artists, these statues of people in various forms and movements add life and beauty to the street.
Midosuji, Kita-ku, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0081, Osaka Prefecture

Fudo-myo at Hozen-ji

At first glance, this statue of the Buddhist deity Fudo-myo appears to be made entirely out of moss. But when you look closer, you will realize that the moss has in fact covered the sculpture, giving it its green, fuzzy appearance. This statue stands outside the Hozen-ji temple, located at the historical Hozenji Yokocho alleyway near Dotonbori. Worshippers at the temple can pour water over the sculpture in an act of purification and to receive its blessing; centuries of this ritual caused moss to grow all over the statue.
1-2-16, Nanba, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0076, Osaka Prefecture, +81 6-6211-4152

Hideyoshi Toyotomi at Hokoku Shrine

Map View
Hideyoshi Toyotomi at Hokoku Shrine
Hideyoshi Toyotomi at Hokoku Shrine | © Ivan Mlinaric/Flickr
This sculpture of Hideyoshi Toyotomi can be found at Osaka’s Hokoku Shrine, located on the edge of the keep of Osaka Castle, on the castle grounds. The shrine is dedicated to Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the founder of the Edo period, who united Japan from warring states into a single nation. He was also the ruler who first built and lived in Osaka Castle. This bronze sculpture was first erected in 1903, but was destroyed during WWII, and the current replica was made in 1943.

Whale sculptures at HEP Five

This huge entertainment and shopping mall is known for its nine floors of shops selling fashionable clothes and trinkets, as well as the towering HEP Fivee ferris wheel that gives you the best view of Osaka for miles around. But did you know that there are two gigantic sculptures on display at the mall? Each over 20m in length, these two crimson whales hang from the 6-story tall atrium in the centre of the mall. They were designed by the Japanese pop artist Tatsuya Ishii.

Red whales | © Douglas Sprott/Flickr

Namba Yasaka Shrine

Located in Namba, this Shinto shrine has been in place for centuries, a place of worship ever since Namba was populated. This shrine has an iconic building shaped like a lion’s head, carved out of stone. Standing at 12m high, 11m wide and 10m deep, you can’t miss this roaring lion that stands before the main temple building. This striking sculpture, one of the most formidable and recognizable in Osaka, makes the Namba Yasaka Shrine a truly unique one.
2-9-19 Motomachi Naniwa-ku, Osaka 556-0016, +81 6-6641-1149

Nio at Shitennoji

Shitennoji in Osaka was erected to celebrate the adoption of Buddhism as Japan’s religion, and has been one of the centres of Buddhism in Japan since the 6th century AD. Like many major temples over Japan, a pair of Nio statues flank each of the main gates of the Shitennoji – the Great East, West, and South Gates respectively. With their bare, muscular bodies, fierce expressions, and towering heights, these Nio statues are meant to guard the temple against demons and thieves.
1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji-ku, Osaka 543-0051, +81 06 06771 0066

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