Osaka Castle: the Symbol of Warring States Period
Osaka Castle is the best historical place to visit in Osaka
Osaka, being one of the top visited cities in Japan, counts with numerous attractions such as Universal Studio Japan, Dotonbori, and Shinsekai. However, Osaka Castle stands out as a must-visit location, embodying not just the city’s but also Japan’s rich history.
As the most recognizable landmark in Osaka, Osaka Castle beckons visitors with its majestic presence and profound historical significance. For foreign visitors, the castle offers a unique glimpse into the Warring States Period, a pivotal era in Japanese history. Its blend of architectural grandeur, cultural depth, and scenic beauty makes it more than just a tourist spot; it’s a place that captures the heart, compelling you to revisit every time you find yourself in Osaka.
In this article, I will share with you all you need to know before you visit Osaka Castle as well as its surrounding park.
What is Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle (大阪城), a pivotal symbol of Japan’s history, stands in the central part of Osaka, southeast of Osaka Station and Umeda Station.
Originally built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573–1603), a time of intense feudal conflict, it was intended as his stronghold. Toyotomi is celebrated for unifying Japan, but the castle was destroyed in the Siege of Osaka by Ieyasu Tokugawa in 1615. The current structure, a reconstruction completed by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1629, reflects the architectural style of that era.
This magnificent castle, one of Japan’s three most famous, is renowned for its towering stone walls, the highest in Japan, extending about 12 kilometers and comprising 1,000,000 rocks. These walls support the massive main tower, which includes an observatory on the eighth floor, offering visitors panoramic views of the city.
Nestled within the expansive Osaka Castle Park, a 100-hectare area, the castle is surrounded by the original moats and fortifications. The park is a spectacle in spring, adorned with 3,000 cherry blossom trees in bloom, creating a stunning landscape. Today, Osaka Castle is not just a historic monument, but a testament to the architectural and cultural evolution of Japan, attracting visitors to explore its rich legacy and natural beauty.
What to See at Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle, an eight-story tower, offers visitors a chance to explore its rich history and enjoy a spectacular view from its 8th-floor observatory.
At night, the castle is beautifully illuminated, presenting a mesmerizing sight distinct from its daytime appearance. Surrounding the castle, Osaka Castle Park is a haven of tranquility with abundant greenery. It’s not just a historical site; the park also boasts various commercial areas, offering shopping and dining experiences. Additionally, the park houses a serene Shinto shrine, providing a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture amidst the bustling cityscape.
Here are some of the highlights of what you can do at Osaka Castle.
Visit inside the main castle: Inside Osaka Castle, visitors can immerse themselves in exhibits centered on Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the castle’s history, including captivating displays of weapons and armor. The topmost floor, the 8th, serves as an observatory offering panoramic views of Osaka. Additionally, the castle houses souvenir shops for memorable keepsakes.
The exterior of the castle: Osaka Castle boasts Japan’s highest stone walls, stretching approximately 12 kilometers in total length. Atop these formidable walls sits the massive main tower within a vast castle complex. A highlight is the ‘Takoishi’ or ‘Octopus Stone,’ the largest in the castle grounds, weighing 108 tons and covering an area of 65 square meters, making you wonder how they even got that stone there.
Events at Osaka Castle & Osaka Castle Park: From mid-November to mid-February, the Osaka Castle Illuminage dazzles visitors with an illumination exhibition that narrates Osaka’s history. The Sengan-yagura Turret, an Important Cultural Property and one of the oldest structures in the castle, usually observed from outside, opens its interiors to the public once or twice a year. Additionally, the park hosts numerous events, including various food festivals, offering a blend of cultural and culinary experiences.
Osaka Castle Park: Rich in natural beauty, Osaka Castle Park lets you experience the changing seasons. Besides being a renowned cherry blossom spot in Osaka, it is also famous for its plum grove east of the main tower.
It houses the Hokoku Shrine, dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his relatives. Moreover, “Miraiza Osaka-Jo” and “JO-TERRACE OSAKA” offer a plethora of shops, restaurants, and cafes, blending historical ambiance with modern leisure.
How to Get to Osaka Castle
You might be surprised at how central this castle is located within the city. Because of this, there are several ways you can get to Osaka Castle.
The closest train station is “Osakajokoen Station” (Osaka Loop Line) or “Osaka Business Park Station” (Nagahoritsurumiryokuchi Line), both being about 20 minutes away by foot.
20 minutes sounds like a lot, but remember that the surroundings of the castle were designed to be complex for enemies to attack. The view of the greenery and the approaching castle is something you will remember!
Tourist attractions near Osaka Castle
-1st. Osaka Tenmangu: A renowned Shinto shrine famous for its Tenjin Festival which is one of Japan’s top three festivals. Dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a deity of scholarship, it’s a popular destination for students seeking academic success.
-2nd. Morinomiya Q’s Mall Base: A large, modern shopping and entertainment complex. It offers a diverse range of shops, restaurants, and recreational facilities, including a fitness center and a rooftop garden.
-3rd. Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine: A revered Shinto shrine famous for its association with the deity Inari, the god of rice and prosperity. Known for its serene and picturesque setting, it attracts visitors seeking blessings for business success and personal well-being.
-4th. Nakanoshima Park: A tranquil urban oasis. Known for its scenic beauty, lush greenery, and seasonal flower displays, the park also hosts cultural institutions like the Osaka Central Public Hall, making it a popular spot for relaxation and cultural activities.
-5th. Osaka Museum of History: This place presents the city’s rich history through interactive exhibits and artifacts. Spanning ancient to modern times, it offers a detailed insight into Osaka’s evolution, featuring dioramas, historical documents, and panoramic views of the adjacent Osaka Castle.
|20 minute walk from Osakajokoen Station (Osaka Loop Line)
|28th Dec-1st Jan
In conclusion, Osaka Castle is a must-see place when you visit Osaka. Not only is it a historical place where you can see and feel the history and culture of Osaka, but you can revisit this place many times since its appearance changes depending on the season. The various events taking place throughout the year also add a special appeal.
I do need to remind you that the park is really large, and you will be walking a lot. So be sure to visit wearing comfortable shoes.
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I hope you enjoyed this article about Osaka Castle. Osaka is full of wonderful experiences that are waiting for you to be explored. Be sure to look beforehand for information about the places you want to visit and the food you want to taste in Osaka. This, to ensure a pleasant trip.
Precisely, you can check the following articles for more information about Osaka and its surrounding areas!