Osaka Castle, Osaka
The grounds of the castle are now a free park. The only admission is to enter the castle main keep. The park sits in the center of the city with the castle in the center, its surrounded by walking and jogging trails and is a major cherry blossom viewing destination.
Osaka Castle has a wonderful observation deck on the 8th floor (which might be the fifth floor above the entrance level. Since the tower is built on a high hill, and the surrounding area is mostly park with no tall buildings, the tower feels even taller, actually 50 meters above the city. Nearby the tower are the castle grounds, now mostly park, and including the castle walls, moats, and several historic buildings. Farther is the distance are the buildings of Osaka, including many large, modern buildings. Finally, even farther away are the edges of the surrounding mountains.
Admission is 600 Yen, which includes entrance to the castle museum.
Osaka Castle is surrounded by thick defensive walls and moats. It was originally constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi after he unified Japan. It was completed in 1583, but was destroyed 32 years later by the armies of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times during its turbulent past.The present castle is a reconstruction dating from 1931, but don't let that put you off, it is still very well worth visiting.
The former grounds of Osaka Castle are now a park area enclosed in the strong, defensive castle walls and surrounded by the castle moats. Osaka Castle Park first opened as a park in 1931 and covers an area of 106.7 hectares.
As we visited in spring, the castle park area was filled with beautiful flowering cherry trees, but it will, of course, look different in different seasons.
During our visit a large parade with drumming and dancing and traditional costumes was taking place and the whole park area was very busy and crowded.
The first thing to say about Osaka Castle is that it is not as old as it looks to be when you first see it. This is a concrete 1930s copy of the first Osaka Castle, which was built in 1585 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. This was considered the finest in the country and was a powerful symbol of Hideyoshi’s supremacy – it was he who brought an end to the wars of over a century, thus unifying the nation. He was succeeded by his son, Hideyori Toyotomi but the latter was challenged by Ieyasu Tokugawa (Hideyoshi’s former retainer) who, in 1615, vanquished the Toyotomi family and destroyed Osaka Castle. Tokugawa moved the shogunate government to Edo (present-day Tokyo).
In 1620 the castle was rebuilt by the Tokugawa shogunate who held it until 1868, although the main tower was struck by lightning three years before that and destroyed in the ensuing fire. The remaining structures were also destroyed in the battle between the Tokugawa shogunate and the New Government Army. Under the Meiji Restoration the castle precincts were requisitioned and in 1931 the main tower was reconstructed according to the original 16th century design, as it had been under Hideyoshi Toyotomi. It was used as a military base and arsenal, and during World War Two 60,000 workers were employed in the armouries here. It was targeted repeatedly in the bombing raids and badly damaged, with a particularly bad attack on August 14, 1945 destroying 90% of the arsenal and killing 382 people working there.
The main tower was fully repaired in the 1990s, and despite being now made of concrete, externally retains its historic appearance, although inside there are modern touches such as lifts (very helpful in making the eight storey building accessible to all). Meanwhile the 1620s external walls came through these various disasters relatively unscathed and are still today pretty much intact, made out of interlocked granite boulders without mortar.
You can enter the castle precincts without charge and wander the grounds, from where you can get some good photos of the dramatic castle perched high above. To enter the main tower you must pay a fee of 600¥ (adults, October 2013 price). Once inside you are directed to the lifts and must start your visit on the top floor, working your way down by the stairs (though anyone with walking difficulties can ask to use the lifts to descend as well).
The first thing you will want to do on arriving on the top floor is to get outside! You can walk all round the tower and get some great views over Osaka, and also an excellent close-up look at some of the detailing on the castle tower itself, including the gilded shachihoko, sometimes also called orcs – a mythical creature, a fish with the head of a tiger (see photo three).
Once you have seen your fill of the view you can start to explore the museum, which has a comprehensive collection. On the top-most (seventh) floor, dioramas tell the story of Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s life, and on the fifth there are miniature models of the Summer War of Osaka (in which the castle fell and the reign of the Toyotomi family came to an end) and a folding screen telling the story of the battles fought.
On the fourth and third floors you find various artefacts and models of the castle during different periods. These are the only floors where photography is not allowed – I imagine that they might be concerned at flash damaging some of the more delicate objects. The “stars” of the second floor displays are the full size replicas of one of those golden shachihoko and a fusetora (crouching tiger). There is also an area where you can dress up in a kimono, wear a helmet or try on some armour (all replicas, naturally) and have your photo taken for a small fee as a souvenir of your visit. Note that this is the only floor with toilets – a bit of a drawback when you have to work your way downwards from the top in order!
Once we had finished exploring all of this we were hot and a bit weary, so we were very happy to spot ice creams on sale at one of several refreshment booths in the grounds (not far from the tower entrance). We enjoyed a tasty mango soft scoop cone (chocolate, vanilla and green tea also available) and a chat with an elderly local who stopped while cycling through the park, keen to practise his English and find out what we had been enjoying in Japan – a pleasant way to while away the last part of our visit here.
Next tip: the wonderful Osaka Aquarium
Osaka Castle was constructed from 1583 to 1597 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a warrior, general and politician, known as Japan's second "great unifier." This castle building, one of Japan's most famous, stands 5 stories above ground and is situated on a one square kilometer plot in the center of a much larger fortress. The castle is surrounded by a series of walls and two moats, and outside of the castle, there are thirteen Japanese government-designated Important Cultural Assets.
Many of the existing walls were constructed in the 1620s by samurai clans on behalf of Tokugawa Hidetada. The castle tower was destroyed several times by war and fire, but the current structure was completed in 1928. This tower was heavily damaged in World War II and finally restored in 1997 as a modern concrete reproduction of the original with modern features like elevators and air conditioning.
Osaka Castle is one of the biggest historical sites in Osaka. The tower contains a museum that covers several floors and hundred of years of Japanese history. Even though many exhibits are in English, not many of the exhibits will be familiar to Westerners unless they are well studied in Japanese history. The biggest attraction of Weterners and Japanese is the overlook on the top floor of the tower, which offers 360 degree views of Osaka.
First built in the 1580s on the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Osaka Castle was the largest castle in Japan, a magnificent structure used by Toyotomi as a military stronghold from which to wage war against rebellious feudal lords in far-flung provinces. By the time he died in 1598, Toyotomi had accomplished what no man had done before: crushed his enemies and unified all of Japan under his command.
After Toyotomi's death, Tokugawa Ieyasu seized power and established his shogunate government in Edo. But Toyotomi's heirs had ideas of their own: Considering Osaka Castle impregnable, they plotted to overthrow the Tokugawa government. In 1615, Tokugawa sent troops to Osaka where they not only annihilated the Toyotomi insurrectionists but destroyed Osaka Castle. The Tokugawas rebuilt the castle in 1629, but the main tower was destroyed by lightning 36 years later, and the rest burned in 1868 as the shogunate made their last stand against imperial forces in what later became known as the Meiji Restoration.
The present Osaka Castle dates from 1931 and was extensively renovated in 1997. Built of ferroconcrete, it's not as massive as the original but is still one of Japan's most famous castles and is impressive with its massive stone walls, black and gold-leaf trim, and copper roof. Its eight-story donjon (keep) rises 39m (130 ft.), with a top-floor observatory offering bird's-eye views of the city. The rest of the donjon houses a museum that uses videos, holograms, models, and artifacts to describe the life and times of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and history of the castle. Unfortunately, most explanations are in Japanese only, but there's plenty to see, including a folding screen with scenes of the intense fighting that took place between Toyotomi and Tokugawa forces, samurai armor and gear, a full-scale reproduction of Toyotomi's Gold Tea Room, and a model of Osaka Castle during the Toyotomi Era. If you want, you can have your photo taken in period clothing for ¥300. Plan on about 45 minutes here.
Visit the Castle... its very interesting. Its a fairly long walk from the Rail Station, but its an interesting walk and the Castle is quite unusual which is why it should be seen. Pity to go all the way there and not see it.
Osaka Castle Park opened in 1931. Inside the castle, is a museum housing a large variety of historical materials and screen displays. A diorama on the 7th floor contains 19 scenes from the life of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, karakuri Taikoki, his image shown and moved around by high technology. The miniature figures and the panoramic screens(Panorama Vision)on the 5th floor show the scenes from the folding screen depicting the Summer War of Osaka.
Those epic and dynamic screens are great instructions to understand the history.
Five programs in series about Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Osaka Castle are shown on the screen, with subtitles in English, Chinese, and Korean at the Theater Room on the 1st floor. The top floor is the observation deck where you can enjoy panoramic views of Osaka Castle Park, modern high-rise buildings, the Osaka plain, and the mountains in the distance. And for a fee, you can try on a helmet, surcoat and kosode kimono, and have your photograph taken.
Don't forget to take the Osaka Castle Park Train. From the castle, try an aqua-liner trip - http://suijo-bus.jp/language/english/aqualiner.aspx.
The castle of Osaka has a long history but the palace that you see there today is quite a modern replica dating back to 1959, it even has a lift inside.Dont miss to take a look into the museum of Osaka castle / palace. The entrancefee was 600 YEN. My favorite part of the castle was the terrace on top of the building, see my next tip for sme photos from there !
In my 4th photo: the signal-gun or noon-marker of Osaka castle, you will see it next to the entrancegate to the museum.
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take any photos or videos inside the castle and museum of Osaka, but at least you can do so on top of the castle, on a large terrace going into all directions. That way you will see some of the great decorations of the palace, the fish for instance are ment in order to keep away fire from the building. My 2nd and last photos are showing some great decorations of the corners of the fence of that terrace.
A special technique was used in order to set togeather the stones of the walls of the palace in Osaka. There are several walls and the first such all is surrounded by a moat. You have to walk through several gates untill you will finally get to the castle of Osaka.
Osaka castle is definately worth a visit while in Osaka. Best would be during cherry blossom season were I reccomend to visit early in the morning. The park around is nice and pleasant for a walk. The castle has a great 360 degree view of Osaka and a kind of museum with related exhibits on the descent.
The constrution of Osaka Castle started in 1583 by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times. In 1931 the present reconstruction of the castle tower was built and it survived the war surprisingly. In 1997 major repair works have been done. Now the castle tower is entirely modern inside hosting a museum giving amazing details about its history. The castle tower is surrounded by secondary citadels, moats and gates. The whole Osaka Castle Park is about 2 square kilometers with lots of green area, sport facilities, a multi purpose arena and Hokoku Shrine dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In early April, the park becomes a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. Admission fee is 600 JPY for the castle tower and the museum can be visited from 9 am to 5 pm.
Nijo Castle has a unique feature in it's "nightengale" floors. Outside of the main rooms, the halls are a special type of floor that when walked upon chirp like a nightengale bird. Thus, the inhabitants were alerted when an undesirable was sneaking up on them at night!