Hozenji-Yokocho Alley

Escape modern Osaka and venture into this narrow cobbled alley lined with traditional wood-fronted restaurants and a temple famed for its deity covered in moss.

In the midst of the neon lights of central Osaka, Hozenji-Yokocho Alley is a peaceful throwback to times past. At one end of the long, narrow alley is the temple of the same name, where worshippers come to seek luck from the statue of Fudo Myoo, one of the important deities of Japanese Buddhism. Wander along the traditional alley to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a meal or a drink in one of the restaurants and cafés occupying the Old World wooden buildings.

Venture just off the pulsing sidewalk near the Dotombori Bridge, with its flashing lights and throngs of people, to discover a little haven of calm. At the far end stands the Hozenji-Yokocho Temple, a small place of worship which has received great fame throughout Japan as a place of luck. During World War II, the original temple was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt, but a small statue of Fudo Myoo survived the devastation. According to legend, a woman once poured water over the statue instead of throwing coins, as was customary. The statue grew a green layer of moss and now all worshippers pour a cup of water over the deity as they make their prayers to ensure it stays blanketed in green.

Visit the temple at night to witness the regular release of dozens of paper lanterns. The golden glow of the lanterns flickering in the night sky above the temple is a beautiful sight.

Wander along Hozenji-Yokocho Alley to experience the Osaka of bygone days. Despite being just 260 feet (80 meters) long and less than 9 feet (3 meters) wide, it is somehow filled with over 60 traditional shops, restaurants and izakaya (Japanese gastropubs). Some of these little dining spots have become quite famous. Try dishes such as katsudon (rice and pork cutlet) and okonomiyaki (traditional savory pancakes).

Hozenji-Yokocho Alley is in the Dotombori district, a short walk from the Dotombori Bridge. Walk here in less than 10 minutes from the Namba subway station of the Kintetsu railway. Admission to the alley and the temple is free. The temple is open all the time.