Osaka (大阪) Castle is arguably the most famous castle in all of Japan (日本). Understandably so, as it looks absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, the castle is not in its original form from the 16th century as it was destroyed throughout history. The current reconstruction dates back to the 1930s, luckily only sustaining little damage from World War II.
Speaking of history, Osaka castle played a very big role in feudal Japan. The original castle was built in 1583 during the reign of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had just succeeded famous feudal lord Oda Nobunaga.
Hideyoshi wanted the castle to become a symbol of a unified Japan and therefore had it built very extravagantly for its time. It proceeded to become the largest castle at its time.
After Hideyoshi died, troops of the Tokugawa clan stormed the castle – which was inhabited by the lasting family of Hideyoshi – and wiped out his lineage, destroying most of the castle in the process. It was later rebuilt around 1620 but it burnt down later that century.
The castle stayed destroyed until the aforementioned reconstruction in the 1930s.
This late reconstruction caused the castle to become quite “modern” for a castle, at least on the interior. Today, it even has an elevator. From the outside though it looks just like an authentic feudal castle.
Visiting Osaka Castle
Being a recent reconstruction, many visitors to Osaka Castle are fine with just seeing it from afar without going inside, as it is not original. While that may be the case, I do recommend going inside anyway if you’re interested in learning more about the castle’s history. It houses a nice museum featuring the castle’s past.
As with other Japanese castles, Osaka Castle comes with impressive castle grounds around it with multiple guard towers, walls and a canal. This scenery takes you back to feudal Japan, it’s very authentic. To the west of Osaka castle lies Nishinomaru Garden which is an amazing spot to do Hanami (花見, Cherry Blossom viewing). The garden has a small entrance fee (the castle grounds themselves do not) but it’s 100% worth it. Some 600 cherry trees are spread throughout the garden and a beautiful tea house can be found as well.
Highly recommended if you’re in Japan during the season, it has a nice contrast to the otherwise mostly modern city as well!
Opening Hours & Admission Fee
While the Osaka Castle Park can be visited at any time for free, the castle itself does have opening hours and an entrance fee:
- Opened every day from 9:00 – 17:00 (last entry at 16:30)
- Closed from December 28th until January 1st
- Entrance fee is 600 Yen (4,76€/$5.45; exchange rate as of March 2019)
- Opened from 9:00 – 17:00 (until 21:00 during Cherry Blossom season)
- Closed every Monday (or the day after if Monday is a holiday)
- Entrance fee is 200 Yen (1,59€/$1.82) (350 Yen (2,87€/$3.18) during the bonus hours for Cherry blossom season (17:00 – 21:00))
How to get to Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle Park’s main gate lies to the southwest and is called Otemon Gate. The nearest Station to this gate is Tanimachi Yonchome Station, which is a 15 minute and 230 Yen (1,83€/$2.09) ride from Osaka Station.
Alternatively, you can enter the park from the eastern side, coming from Osakajokoen (Osaka Castle Park) Station. This station is a destination of the Osaka Loop line (similar to the circular JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo (東京)). It’s a 10 minute ride for 160 Yen (1,27€/$1.45) from Osaka Station.
Osaka Castle is a highlight for many people traveling to the area. It is what draws many people to the city, including myself. While Osaka is certainly a more modern city like Tokyo, some historic pieces like this castle remain to this day.
I highly recommend checking out Osaka Castle Park, even if you do not intend to enter the castle itself. Especially during Cherry Blossom Season, which is around the corner for 2019, the scenery is breathtaking.
Even though the main tower is a reconstruction, it still holds immense historic value as one of the very first major castles back in the 16th century. From the outside, you cannot even tell that it is not original (as opposed to the interior).
Anyway, I hope you will find time to visit this great sight in the middle of Osaka!
And that’s it for Osaka Castle, I hope you enjoyed it!
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See you there!