Osaka, a bustling city known for its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and fascinating historical landmarks. Among its many treasures stands the iconic Osaka Castle, a majestic symbol of Japan’s rich heritage and resilience. Join us on a journey through time as we explore the storied past and timeless beauty of Osaka Castle.
A Glimpse into Osaka Castle’s Past
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.
- Architectural Marvel: Osaka Castle is renowned for its impressive architectural design, featuring massive stone walls, intricate carvings, and imposing turrets that reflect the craftsmanship of ancient Japanese builders.
- Cherry Blossom Haven: During springtime, the castle grounds transform into a picturesque oasis adorned with cherry blossoms, attracting visitors from around the world to witness this breathtaking natural spectacle.
- Samurai Legacy: Osaka Castle’s legacy is deeply intertwined with Japan’s samurai culture, as it served as a strategic stronghold for feudal lords and warriors who shaped the nation’s history through their bravery and honor.
- Hidden Treasures: Within the castle complex, hidden gems await discovery, including museums, tea houses, and meticulously landscaped gardens that offer a serene escape from the bustling city life.
Osaka Castle: What’s Inside?
Let’s delve into the wonders that await within the walls of Osaka Castle.
1. Main Tower (Tenshukaku)
Standing at the heart of the castle complex, the main tower, or Tenshukaku, is a towering symbol of power and prestige. Ascend its steep stone steps to explore multiple floors filled with captivating exhibits and artifacts that offer insights into Japan’s feudal era. From intricate armor and weaponry to ancient scrolls and artwork, each display unveils a chapter of Osaka Castle’s storied past.
2. Osaka Castle Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich history and legacy of Osaka Castle at the onsite museum. Featuring interactive exhibits, informative displays, and multimedia presentations, the museum brings to life the dramatic events and pivotal moments that shaped the castle’s destiny. Gain a deeper understanding of the castle’s significance as a strategic stronghold and cultural icon through engaging storytelling and immersive experiences.
3. Castle Grounds and Gardens
Step outside and wander through the sprawling grounds surrounding Osaka Castle, where meticulously landscaped gardens and tranquil ponds await. Marvel at the beauty of seasonal flowers, ancient trees, and traditional tea houses that evoke a sense of serenity amidst the bustling cityscape. Take a leisurely stroll along the castle’s moat or find a peaceful spot to enjoy a picnic while soaking in the majestic views of the main tower.
4. Observation Decks
For panoramic vistas of Osaka city and beyond, head to the observation decks located atop the main tower. From this vantage point, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding skyline, including towering skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and the lush greenery of Osaka Castle Park. Capture memorable photographs and take a moment to appreciate the timeless beauty of Japan’s cultural capital from above.
5. Special Events and Cultural Activities
Throughout the year, Osaka Castle hosts a variety of special events and cultural activities that offer visitors a unique glimpse into Japanese traditions and customs. From traditional tea ceremonies and kimono dressing sessions to martial arts demonstrations and theatrical performances, there’s always something exciting happening within the castle grounds. Check the event calendar in advance to see what’s happening during your visit and immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Japanese culture.
What’s on Each Floors of Osaka Castle?
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.
***PRO TIP:During my visit to the Castle with my aunts, we noticed a long line for the elevator on the left, but the stairs were practically empty. Since my aunts preferred the elevator (they’re getting on in years!), I decided to take the stairs. It only took me a few minutes to climb, but my aunts took about fifteen-ish minutes to reach the top because of the queue for the elevator.
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.
1. Public Transportation: Getting to Osaka Castle is a breeze, whether you prefer the train or the buses. If you prefer buses, several routes also stop near the castle, making it convenient to access from various parts of the city. If you prefer the trains, see options below:
- From Osaka Stationthe 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 Stationon 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 Stationon the park southwest side is good for the Chuo Subway Line, and Tanimachi Subway Line.
- Temmabashi Stationon 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.
2. Taxi or Ride-sharing: For a more direct route, consider taking a taxi or using a ride-sharing service. They’re readily available throughout Osaka and can drop you off right at the entrance of Osaka Castle.
3. Walking or Cycling: If you’re staying nearby or feeling adventurous, walking or cycling to Osaka Castle is a great option. You’ll get to soak in the city’s atmosphere and enjoy scenic views along the way. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to burn off some calories before indulging in all the delicious food Osaka has to offer!
No matter which mode of transportation you choose, rest assured that Osaka Castle is well-connected and easy to reach from anywhere in the city. So grab your camera, lace up your walking shoes, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure to one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks. Osaka Castle awaits—let the exploration begin!
Where To 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.
Tips & Reminders for Travelers
- Plan Ahead: Check the castle’s opening hours and admission fees beforehand to avoid any inconvenience. Consider visiting during weekdays or early mornings to avoid crowds.
- Comfortable Footwear: The castle grounds involve a fair amount of walking, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Additionally, dress appropriately for the weather and consider bringing sunscreen and a hat during sunny days.
- Guided Tours: Take advantage of guided tours offered at the castle to gain insights into its history and significance. English-speaking guides are available, providing valuable commentary and anecdotes throughout the tour.
- Explore Nearby Attractions: Extend your visit by exploring other nearby attractions such as Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Museum of History, the Illusion Museum is on the first floor of the Mizaira, and nearby shopping and dining districts for a comprehensive Osaka experience.
- Souvenir Shopping: Don’t forget to browse the souvenir shops within the castle complex for unique gifts and memorabilia to commemorate your visit to Osaka Castle.
- Bring Enough Cash: Some food kiosks and souvenir shops do not accept credit cards.
Osaka Castle stands as a timeless symbol of Japan’s rich history and cultural heritage. From its imposing main tower to its serene gardens, every corner of the castle offers a glimpse into the country’s fascinating past. Whether you’re drawn to its historical significance, breathtaking views, or vibrant cultural experiences, Osaka Castle has something for everyone. So next time you find yourself in Osaka, be sure to add this iconic landmark to your itinerary. Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty and majesty of Osaka Castle—it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
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.