The present shrine buildings date from 1957 – rebuilt after their destruction in WWII. With a history of over 1,100 years, Ohatsu-Tenjin is the protector of the Sonezaki and Umeda areas. It is also the site of a double suicide in 1703 that was later retold in Sonezaki Shinju, a famous Bunraku puppet play written by Monzaemon Chikamatsu.
The story is about the love of Ohatsu & Tokubei. Tokubei was an employee of a Soy Sauce Merchant and Ohatsu, a prostitute. Their ill fated love affair ultimately ends in a love pact in which Tokubei kills Ohatsu with a short sword and then takes his own life.
The story of pure and passionate love was written so skillfully that it brought Chikamatsu instant fame. A memorial tower was erected by volunteers marking the site of Sonezaki Shinju, which is visited by many couples.
Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes. The ema are then left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) receive them. They bear various pictures, often of animals or other Shinto images. The ones at this site bear pictures of Ohatsu & Tokubei.