Soji-ji is in an unassuming and well off the foreign tourist path temple in Ibaraki city, a suburban city of Osaka city. But the temple is worth visiting for its unique association with turtles. So what does this temple have to do with turtles? Well, the story goes that a man named Takafusa took pity on a turtle caught by a fisherman and released it back in the river. Later on, the Takafusa `s wife throws her stepson Yamakage, into the river but he is saved by the rescued turtle. The temple is said to have originated from Yamakage having a sculpture of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy sculpted to show his gratefulness after his father passed. Today, you can see the Kannon statue riding on a turtle. There is a turtle pond on the ground with native Japanese turtles, a rare sight due to competition with invasive species like red ear sliders which now outnumber native species. 

Depiction of Yamakage being rescued by the turtle

For more information and pictures, here is a nice post about the turtle temple that I found on Kansai Odyssey.


From Osaka Station get Tokaido-Sanyo Line local train heading for Kyoto and after 30 minutes get off at JR-Sōjiji Station(¥260). Then walk for 5 minutes along the train line and youll soon arrive at the temple.

Hours: 8am to 6pm

Admission: free

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