OSAKA -- A history-rich Buddhist temple here is undergoing a rebirth, in a project to integrate the site with a high-rise hotel. A representative for the company leading the project released details and mockup images of the unprecedented facility on Dec. 14.
Mitsutera temple in Osaka's Chuo Ward has been a part of the landscape since it was founded -- believed to date back to 744 -- during Japan's Nara period. Part of the Omuro school of the Shingon Buddhism sect, the eleven-faced Kannon is the main deity enshrined there. Its current structure was built in 1808, having escaped damage from U.S. bombing raids on Osaka in 1945 during World War II.
The Candeo Hotels Osaka Shinsaibashi is set to open on the site of the temple on Nov. 26, 2023. It is planned to be a 15-story building, plus one underground floor. The 180-room hotel will occupy the fourth floor up, and there will be a spa featuring a sauna and open-air bath on the top floor.
The temple's main hall will fit snugly within the building's first three floors, becoming an unprecedented sight along Osaka's Mido-suji Avenue. Hotel guests will reach the lobby via a route that goes past the temple's main building. There are plans to let visitors experience temple practices such as morning prayers, meditation, and "eshakyo," or contemplation through the transcription of Buddhist sutras and images of Buddha.
Teruaki Hozumi, president of Candeo Hospitality Management Inc., enthused, "This is a competitive area for hotels, but I want the prospect of experiencing (the temple's) religion to be a way for ours to stand out."
To preserve the temple, the entire structure was raised and relocated during preliminary construction in 2020 and 2021. Tetsuro Kaga, the temple's chief priest, allayed concerns about the hotel's position above the temple's sacred Buddha, saying, "Since the temple has remained intact, the roof will become its new 'kekkai' (boundary between it and the outer world). In fact, by spending the night above the Buddha, I think guests' stays may be all the more restful." He added, "This will be a chance for our followers to fortify their faith and provide good experiences to people from the region and visitors from further away."
(Japanese original by Shigeto Hanazawa, Osaka Cultural News Department)