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Osaka Castle

 


Jaw-Dropping Osaka Castle -
The Ultimate Guide

 

Osaka Castle has a commanding presence on the Osaka city’s skyline.

It is the symbol of Osaka and one of its main attractions.

Here is your ultimate guide to visiting the jaw-dropping Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park.

 

 

Osaka Castle Park Map

 

Osaka Castle Park is massive! It covers approximately 60,000 square meters (15 acres).

It consists of a jaw-dropping Tenshukaku – the Main Castle Tower as well as a complex network of moats, turrets, and walls which surround the Main Tower.

Specifically, 2 gates (Otemon and Sakuramon), 5 turrets (Ichiban-yagura, Inui-yagura, Rokuban, Sengan, Tamon), a well (Kinmeisui), a storehouse (Kinzo), a gunpowder magazine (Enshogura) and three sections of the castle wall (all located around the Otemon gate) surround the Main Castle Tower.

Thirteen of the structures around the Main Castle Tower are designated as Important Cultural Assets by the national government.

 

Following is the map to help you navigate through the park.

 

Osaka Castle Map

Credit: Osaka Castle Map – On the World Map

 

 

Tenshukaku – The Main Tower of Osaka Castle

 

Tenshukaku – the Main Tower of Osaka Castle stands tall in the middle of Osaka Castle Park. It is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometer in size.

It was built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using an impressive technique called Burdock piling.

Tenshukaku is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside. All in all, it is 55 meters high!

 

Osaka Castle

 

Tenshukaku – the Main Castle Tower is a concrete reproduction of the original. It was completely renovated in 1997, with fresh white plaster on the walls, new tiles on the roof, restored ornaments, and beautiful gold leaf decoration. 

 

Osaka Castle

 

The Main Castle Tower houses a modern museum and a viewing platform from which you will be able to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of Osaka city.

 

 

The Main Castle Tower Museum

 

The First Floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum

 

The first floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum has an Information Center that you should definitely stop by and pick up the map of the museum. In addition, there is a gift shop with really cool souvenirs.

I recommend that you check out the Movie Theater as well. It shows five short documentaries about Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Osaka Castle. They are about 5 minutes each and they do have subtitles in English, Korean and Chinese. 

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP:

The museum is laid out in chronological order with the tour starting on the top floor.

Take the elevator all the way to the 8th floor and then, work your way down to the 2nd floor. 

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The Eighth Floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum

 

The eighth floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum is positioned at a hight of 50 meters (164 feet) and contains an observation deck. Once you get there, you will be rewarded with the breathtaking views of downtown Osaka. 

 

Osaka Castle

 

In addition, the 8th floor has a series of Nishikie on display. These are multi-colored woodblock prints that give interesting insights into the everyday life around the time of the Shoguns. In addition, there are TV monitors that show the scenes from the Osaka port while explaining the growth of Osaka during its early years. 

 

The Seventh Floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum 

 

The exhibits on the seventh floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum focus on the history of Osaka Castle and its environs during the reign of its first shogun, Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

 

Osaka Castle Museum

 

Almost entire floor is taken by a superbly done large screen panel that traces the lineage of the Shogun and his family.

The story of the Toyotomi family ends with the winter siege of Osaka Castle in 1614, followed by the summer siege of 1615.

Hence, the summer siege led to the downfall of the Toyotomi family and the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate. 

 

Osaka Castle Museum

 

In addition, all around the walls on the seventh floor are built-in monitors that display the holographic images of Hideyoshi Toyotomi at major points in his life.  

 

Osaka Castle

 

The Fifth and Sixth Floors of the Main Castle Tower Museum 

 

The fifth and sixth floors of the Main Castle Tower Museum tell a story of the fall of the Toyotomi Shogunate and the rise of the final Japanese Shogunate, the Tokugawa.

Notably, in 1603 Tokugawa established the Shogunate in Edo (Tokyo) and seized the ruling power. Despite his prestige, Toyotomi family did not give up its powers and the tensions between the two families continued to escalate. 

The first confrontation occurred in 1614. It became to be known as the Winter Siege of Osaka. At that time, Toyotomi managed to defended the castle and the confrontation ended up in a peace treaty.

Needless to say, right after the siege was over and peace was established, the Toyotomi family began massive restorations of Osaka Castle. Specifically, their efforts were focused on digging up the outer moats. This made Tokugawas suspicious. The end result was another confrontation between the Toyotomis and the Tokugawas. It became to be known as the 1615 Summer War of Osaka. 

 

Osaka Castle

 

The Summer War of Osaka is exceptionally well represented with miniature figures of warriors.

To be honest, I found it to be absolutely fascinating to see the miniatures of the two armies recreated in such detail. 

 

Osaka Castle

 

Osaka Castle

 

Consequently, the end result of the Summer War in Osaka was the fall the Toyotomi family. 

 

The Third and Fourth Floors of the Main Castle Tower Museum

 

The third and fourth floors of the museum are dedicated to Hideyoshi Toyotami and his era. 

Notably, there are about 8,000 artifacts on display including exquisite wall scrolls and screens depicting Hideyoshi Toyotomi at different times in his life. 

When I visited the museum last time, I was fortunate to see Hideyoshi Toyotomi Golden Tea Room. Apparently, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was fascinated with gold. If you closely examine the room, you will notice that not only the ceiling and walls are covered with gold leaf, moreover, practically every object in that room is covered with gold leaf.

 

The golden tea room was built in 1585 by Toyotomi. Toyotomi  was known for his great interest in tea ceremonies and used the room to show off his power and wealth.

Interestingly enough, the golden tea room was easily disassembled and it could be quickly put back together, which allowed Toyotomi to move the room to hold the tea ceremonies in different places.

The room was burned down in 1615, however, several replicas have been made.

 

Finally, make sure to locate the scale models of Osaka Castle complex as it appeared during both the Toyotomi and Tokugawa periods. 

 

 

The Second Floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum

 

The second floor of the Main Castle Tower Museum contains a a full-scale replica of shachihoko or shachi, which an animal in Japanese folklore with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp. It was believed that this animal could cause the rain to fall. As a result, many temples and castles were often adorned with roof ornaments crafted in the form of a shachihoko, in order to protect them from fire.

In addition, make sure not to miss Fusetora – the crouching tigers.

 

Osaka Castle

 

Osaka Castle is illuminated every evening until 11:00 p.m. It looks absolutely magnificent against the city skyline.

 

Osaka Castle Museum

 

 

Nishinomaru Garden

 

Nishinomaru Garden is located right next to Osaka Castle. It is no more than a 5-minute walk.

By the way, this was the place where the residence of Kita-no-mandokoro (wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi) was formerly located.

The garden commands a beautiful view of the castle tower and the stone wall of a moat.

 

Osaka Castle

 

Furthermore, the garden is also famous for its 600 cherry trees that bloom gloriously during springtime.

All in all, there are about 4,000 cherry trees all around Osaka Castle Park and it is quite a sight to see them all in full bloom. 

 

 

Plum Grove at Osaka Castle Park

 

If you are planning on visiting Osaka Castle Park at about the end of February, then be ready for quite a treat!

And, needless to say, head directly to the Plum Grove, which is located at the east side of the inside moat. Here, you will find about 1,300 plum trees that usually bloom at the end of February. 

All in all, there are about 100 different varieties of plum trees planted here. The colors of the blooms range from white, and all shades of pink, as well as light violet. 

 

Osaka Castle Park

Photo credit: pelican via Flickr

 

 

The Moats and Walls of Osaka Castle Complex

 

The moats and the walls that you see today that surround Osaka Castle complex are from the early 17th century.

The re-construction of Osaka Castle and its surrounding moats and walls began shortly after Tokugawa won the Summer War of Osaka in 1615. Notably, Tokugawa ordered the task of rebuilding the walls to hundreds of the samurai clans from across the country.

Massive stones from the Seto Inland Sea, primarily near the island of Shodoshima were brought to Osaka to create masugata. These were small spaces surrounded by the sheer stone walls with two gates set at right angles to each other. Masugata acted like a trap. It forced attacking warriors to stop before making a sharp turn. As a result, it allowed castle defenders to rain bullets or spears down on the attackers.

To prevent attackers from clambering up the walls to escape, huge smooth stones were used to surround the space.

The tako ishi inside the Sakuramon Gate is Osaka Castle’s largest stone. Its surface area is about 60 square meters and it weights an estimated 108 tons.

It is truly a mystery how this huge stone was transported and then erected, when at that time here was no heavy construction equipment.

 

Osaka Castle

 

The moats that surround Osaka Castle are massive. They extend from 70 to 90 meters in width. 

In addition, the stone walls which were erected on each side of the moats are more than 20 meters in height. They are made out of interlocked granite boulders without any mortar. 

All in all, the total length of the stone walls extends to 12 km making Osaka Castle quite impregnable. 

 

Osaka Castle

 

If you want to have a closer look at the castle walls, then I recommend taking a boat ride. The boat will take you all around the castle and pull up close to the walls allowing you to see inscribed crests of the various families who contributed them.

 

 

Osaka Castle – Quick Facts

 

Number 1

When Osaka Castle was built in the late 1500s by preeminent daimyō Hideyoshi Toyotomi it was the largest and most impressive castle Japan had ever seen.

It was modeled after Azuchi Castle, the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga. However, it surpassed it in every way. It featured a five-story main tower, with three extra stories underground, as well as gold leaf on the sides of the tower.

Throughout his life, Hideyoshi Toyotomi continued to extend and expand the castle, making it more and more formidable to attackers.

The construction was completed in 1597. Hideyoshi Toyotomi died one year later after the construction was done. Osaka Castle was passed to his son, Hideyori Toyotomi.

In 1614 and then again in 1615 Tokugawa leyasu attacked Hideyori Toyotomi. After continued battling, Osaka Castle fell to the Tokugawa clan and the castle buildings were burned to the ground.

 

 

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Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

 

Number 2

In 1620, the new heir to the shogunate, Hidetada Tokugawa, began to reconstruct Osaka Castle. He assigned the task of constructing new walls to individual samurai clans.

In 1660 lightning ignited the gunpowder warehouse. The explosion caused major damage to the castle tower. In addition, in 1665 another lightning struck the castle tower itself and it burnt down to the ground.

It was not until 1843 when the repairs started on the castle. 

 

Number 3

When Tokugawa Shogunate lost power in 1868, Osaka Castle was passed on to the Meiji New Government. However, the transition from Tokugawa Shogunate to Meiji New Government  caused many civil unrests and in process left the castle almost completely destroyed. 

In 1931 the major reconstruction was started.

During World War II, the castle became one of the largest military armories, employing 60,000 workers. Bombing raids targeting the arsenal damaged the reconstructed main castle tower.

Finally, in 1995 Osaka’s government approved yet another restoration project. The restoration was completed in 1997.

 

 

How to Get to Osaka Castle from Osaka Station

 

If you are arriving at Osaka Station, then the easiest way to get to Osaka Castle is to take the JR West Osaka Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station located on the park’s north east side. It is about an 15-minute walk through the park grounds to the main castle tower itself.

 

 

Opening Hours and Admission Cost

 

Surprisingly, the entrance to Osaka Castle Park is free! The opening hours are from 9 am till 5 pm. However, if you decide to explore Osaka Castle Museum or the Nishinomaru Garden, then, you will have to splurge on the entrance fees.

 

The entrance fee to Nishinomaru Garden is 200 yen. The opening hours are from 9 am till 5 pm.

The entrance fee to the Main Castle Tower Museum is 600 yen. The opening hours are 9 am till 5 pm and the last admission is at 4:30 pm.

The museum is closed starting on December 28th through January 1st.

 

If you need more information about the museum, then visit the Osaka Castle Museum website: Osaka Castle Museum

 

 

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Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

 

 

Now, I want to hear back from you! Are you planning a trip to Osaka? Is Osaka Castle on your itinerary?

Let me know! Leave me a quick comment in the comment section below. 

Make sure to click on any of the images right below to get inspired or to help you plan your trip to Osaka!

 

 

Comments:

34 thoughts on “Jaw-Dropping Osaka Castle – The Ultimate Guide


2019-10-12

I’m so sad we weren’t able to visit Osaka castle during our trip to the Kansai Region earlier this year. We would always go on a day trip to Kyoto, Kobe and Nagoya and we only spent one full day in Osaka where we went to Universal Studios Japan. We were supposed to visit Osaka castle on our last day before our flight at night but we were so tired since the previous night, we arrived at Osaka almost midnight since we came from Nagoya. Hopefully, we can visit Osaka castle on our next trip

    2019-10-14

    Absolutely! Plan it for your next visit to Osaka!

2019-10-13

We barely had any time when we visited Osaka on our last trip to Japan. We basically ate okonomiyaki and some takoyaki and had to leave. Next time, we’ll give it a proper full day! Thanks for the info 🙂

    2019-10-14

    I am glad you found it useful. Osaka is fun to visit!

2019-10-13

This looks amazing! OUr boys love castles and Japanese history so this would be a PERFECT trip for us!!

    2019-10-14

    If you have not been to Japan, then I most definitely recommend that you plan a trip. It is my favorite place to be.

nclaesen
2019-10-13

The castle is so beautiful!! I didn’t realize that the park itself was 15 acres. That is so great to have such a large area of green space within the city. Love all your tips and hints!!

    2019-10-14

    Thank you for your comment!
    It is definitely a huge area that is so well maintained. It is especially beautiful during early spring, when plum trees are in bloom, followed by peach trees and finally cherry trees. It is really beautiful.
    Anna

2019-10-13

The Japanese are so clever at everything they do. I have only been to Osaka as a port on a cruise ship, so my day was only finite. However, I’d love to get to the castle when I go to Japan again. Thanks for all the detail.

    2019-10-14

    Hello,
    Oh yes! Most definitely plan on exploring Osaka. There is so much to do and see.
    Anna

2019-10-13

Osaka Castle seems like a fascinating place to visit, with so much history to appreciate. Interesting that it had to be rebuilt several times due to destruction from wars. It looks beautiful and I would love to see it in person.

    2019-10-14

    Hi Tania,
    Of all the wonderful castles in Japan, Osaka Castle is the most impressive. The restoration is superb.
    Anna

Moon Ray
2019-10-14

The castle & surroundings looks amazing. Loved your presentation!!!

    2019-10-14

    Thank you!

2019-10-14

Beautiful! Sadly, we could not make it to Osaka as we only had 2 weeks in Japan. It seems we missed out on an amazing castle.

    2019-10-15

    Oh, so sorry! Well, maybe next time you can plan a longer stay.

2019-10-14

Stunning architecture! Beautiful photographs as well. I have been really wanting to visit Japan, all the images I see are simply breathtaking.

    2019-10-15

    Thank you so much, Ivan!

2019-10-14

Amazing! What a beautiful massive place! 15 acres is a lot to see!! Great post!

    2019-10-15

    Thank you!

2019-10-14

Love this post, Anna. Having lived in Hirakata for almost 6 months, Osaka used to be a place I visit frequently next to Kyoto. You have captured Osaka so beautifully through your photos.

    2019-10-15

    Oh, thank you so much, Georgina. Such kind words!

2019-10-15

Wow, this castle is absolutely stunning and the grounds are so well looked after. I cannot wait to visit Japan… your pictures have fueled my wanderlust!

    2019-10-15

    Thank you, Catherine!
    I hope you get to visit!

2019-10-15

Thanks the awesome details! I love when a guide includes a map! The castle looks incredible!

    2019-10-15

    Thank you so much, Natasha!

2019-10-15

I have always wanted to visit Japan, Osaka Castle looks brilliant!

    2019-10-15

    Thank you!

Julie Espinosa
2019-10-15

Japan is high up on my bucket list. I love all the historical information in your post. I will make sure Osaka Castle is on my itinerary!

    2019-10-15

    Thank you, Julie!

2019-10-15

Wow Japan is just a magical place! I never thought to visit the castles there, they are just stunning. What a cool experience, i will absolutely remember this when we plan our trip there… hopefully in the coming year or two

    2019-10-15

    Thank you, Darby! It is definitely worth a visit!

I like the idea and suggestions of taking the boat ride to have a closer look of the castle walls. Great article about Osaka.

    2019-10-16

    Thank you, April. I recommend it. The boat takes you close to the walls and you can see the crests of different samurai clans that contributed to the construction of the castle.

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