Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) was built in one of Japan’s more tumultuous eras of history – the Azuchi-Momoyama period – Osaka Castle is one of the region’s most impressive and iconic landmarks. Restored in 1997 after bombing raids in World War II, this gargantuan castle is the pride of Osaka and is a must-see for visitors to Osaka City.
Osaka Castle: A Brief History
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the samurai warlord began construction in 1583 at the former site of Honganji Temple and completed the magnificent castle, which was reputed as being unparalleled in the country.
Toyotomi, having employed the castle as his stronghold, succeeded in quelling the wars which had continued for more than one century, thereby unifying the entire nation. After his death, Ieyasu Tokugawa, who worked for Toyotomi as his chief retainer, was appointed to the Shogun and he established the shogunate (government) in Edo (Tokyo).
In 1615, Ieyasu ruined the Toyotomi family and destroyed Osaka Castle (in the Summer War of Osaka). Thereafter, the Tokugawa shogunate reconstructed Osaka Castle. It held the castle under its direct control until 1868, when the Tokugawa shogunate lost power and the castle fell.
The Main Tower of the Castle was reconstructed in the center of Osaka Castle in 1931, which was used as a military base, with funds raised by the citizens.
The present-day Main Tower is the third generation. It follows the Main Tower from the Toyotomi period, which was destroyed by fire during the Summer War, and the tower from the Tokugawa period, which was struck by lightning and was burned down.
Since its construction, Osaka Castle repeatedly featured as the battleground of the major wars in Japanese history.
Osaka Castle: What’s Inside?
Osaka Castle is eight stories high and each floor has exhibits. It’s best to go up to the eighth floor and then walk down the stairs to look at the exhibits on each floor.
8th Floor: This has an observation platform. A stereoscope viewer is also available for showing the “Scenery of Naniwa” (old name for Osaka) that stereoscopically shows the old Osaka landscape. This floor also has a museum shop offering Osaka souvenirs.
7th floor: A georama called “Karakuri Tako-ki” explains the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi using mechanical figurines and “Taiko-ki with historical facts and true stories” are exhibited.
6th Floor: The sixth floor is a corridor with no exhibits.
5th Floor: The fifth floor exhibits miniature and panoramic visions of Osaka. Natsu no Jin. 2 Panorama is displayed and an explanation is available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
4th Floor: The exhibition on the fourth floor changes every two months and details are posted on the Castle’s website.
3rd Floor: Similar to the fourth floor, the exhibits on the third-floor change every two months. The Golden Tea Room is also on this floor, a tea room created by Toyotomi Hideyoshi has been restored to its actual size. There are also mini versions of Osaka Castle in both Toyotomi and Tokugawa eras.
2nd Floor: This floor shows basic information about Osaka Castle and Japanese castles in general.
1st Floor: The first floor has a theater that plays movies about Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Osaka Castle with subtitles in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. There’s also a museum shop different from the one on the 8th floor.
***TRAVEL TIP: There is a long line for the elevator (left line) but the stairs are almost always empty, so climb the stairs.
How To Get To Osaka Castle?
Osaka Castle stands within extensive park grounds and around this park are four different stations that are within easy walking distance.
From Osaka Station the easiest way to get to Osaka Castle is to take the Osaka Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station on the park’s northeast side. From there it is an 18-minute walk through the park grounds to the castle itself.
Morinomiya Station on the park’s south east side is good for the Osaka Loop Line, the Chuo Subway Line, and the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Subway Line.
Tanimachi 4-Chome Station on the park southwest side is good for the Chuo Subway Line, and Tanimachi Subway Line.
Temmabashi Station on the park’s northwest side is good for the Keihan Main Line and the Tanimachi Subway Line. If you are traveling from Kyoto, taking the Keihan Main Line to Temmabashi Station is the easiest route to Osaka Castle.
Where Do I Avail Tickets to Osaka Castle?
- You can purchase tickets on-site
- ¥600 – Adults
- Free: Children 14 and under, Osaka City residents 65+ (ID required), and persons with disabilities
- You can avail an Osaka E-Pass. You get an unlimited trips on the Osaka subway, tramway, and bus Plus FREE entry to almost 40 iconic Osaka tourist sites including the Osaka Castle.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you will do a lot of walking. You’ll also have to climb the stairs as the line to the elevator can get really long, especially during peak times.
- Another museum called the Illusion Museum is on the first floor of the Mizaira, a plaza near the Osaka Castle. You can also get inside for free if you avail the Osaka Amazing Pass.
- Bring enough cash as some food kiosks and souvenir shops do not accept credit cards
English name: Osaka Castle
Japanese name: 大阪城
English address: 1‐1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Japanese address: 大阪府大阪市中央区大阪城1‐1
Business hours: 09:00 AM – 5:00 PM, last entry by: 4:30 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Closed: December 28 to January 1
Nearest Station: Tanimachi Yonchome Station along the Tanimachi and Chuo subway lines. The closest JR station to Osaka Castle is Osakajokoen Station on the JR Loop Line, a 10 minute, 160 yen ride from JR Osaka Station.