Osaka Castle is probably one of the most well known sights of Osaka. This distinctive castle is not to be missed if you happen to visit the city. A relatively modern reconstruction, this castle is equipped with modern facilities like elevators and air conditioning to make your visit a pleasant one. The park around the castle is also a great place for photography especially during spring time when the cherry blossoms are out.

Getting There

Osaka is well connected by Kansai International Airport with direct flights from Singapore. Otherwise, you can take a 3 hr Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Osaka. I have an earlier post on using the Japan Rail Pass to save money on train rides in Japan, so read that post if you want to find out more.

Once you are in Osaka, getting to Osaka Castle is relatively easy. The closest JR stations are Osakajokoen and Morinomiya stations. If you have the JR Pass, you can take this train ride for free. Depending on which gate you want to enter from you can alight at the desired station. JR Osakajokoen and JR Morinomiya are located on the east and south east of Osaka Castle. If you are coming from the west, the subway station to alight is Tanimachi 4-chrome station on the southwest corner.

A Short History

Construction of Osaka Castle was first started in 1583 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, a feudal warlord, and was the largest castle of it’s time. Since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times until 1868 when it was burnt down in conflicts during the Meiji Restoration period. In 1931 the castle was rebuilt with steel and concrete. It survived bombings during World War 2 and in 1995, the castle was restored to it’s original Edo period glory. Today, the castle functions as a museum for visitors.

For older readers who might remember, Osaka Castle was used as the plot location for James Clavell’s novel, Shogun, in 1975. Shogun was later made into a TV mini-series, but Himeji Castle was used as a stand-in during filming.

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The approach to Osaka Castle from JR Morinomiya station. You would have to go through the park that surrounds the castle grounds.
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It was spring and it was crowded with visitors queuing to enter the castle. Entry fee to the castle is ¥600 for adults and we had to wait for around 15 minutes to enter the castle because of the crowds.
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The castle is really a modern reconstruction. Only the foundations with granite stones are from the 1600’s. There are modern facilities like elevators for use by visitors.
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The castle exterior features gold gilded motifs which were part of the original design of the old castle.

Once you enter the castle, the recommended sequence is to take the elevator up to the topmost floor and enjoy the view first. There after, you can take your time to view the museum exhibits and use the stairs to go down the lower floors.

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The topmost floor where you can go out to the viewing gallery and get a bird’s eye view of Osaka.
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Part of the museum’s exhibits tell the history of the castle. These detailed miniature figurines depict one of the major battles that were fought over control of the castle.

Once you’ve had your fill of the castle’s interior, it’s time to enjoy the park that surrounds the castle. We were there in spring and the last vestiges of cherry blossoms were still showing.

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A classic shot of Osaka Castle with cherry blossoms framing the view.
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The old moats surrounding the castle have been converted into small boating areas. You could take a cruise on these small traditional boats and enjoy scenic views while cruising slowly.

While the castle tower is closed during the night (opening hours 9am-5pm), the park areas are still open. And it’s possible to get some good night views of the castle lighted up at night.

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The park at night does offer a nice setting especially at blue hour.
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Osaka Castle lighted up at night. I think it doesn’t look as imposing as in the day time.

While Osaka Castle is one of the most popular and largest castle in Japan, it’s not considered a ‘National Treasure’ due to the modern reconstruction of the castle using steel and concrete. Traditional Japanese castles are made of wood, and few of them have survived the centuries due to wooden structures been easily destroyed by fires or earthquakes. If you would like to see one of Japan’s most well preserved castles, click here for my blog post on Matsumoto Castle.

5 thoughts on “Osaka Castle

    1. Yes it is. It’s very different from the European castles which were built purely for defense, whereas, the Japanese castles had an added function to impress outsiders.

  1. A stunning series of photos ~ the castle is amazing, but so in the surrounding area. While not a National Treasure, I am happy the reinforced the building and made it safe for future generations to admire and dream 🙂

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