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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.