About Osaka Castle
A stunning modern reconstruction of a 1583 castle with a very important - and turbulent - part to play in Japanese history.
Osaka Castle is one of most stunning landmarks of Osaka, and has a long history to go with it. Originally built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he intended it to be the most formidable castle ever built in Japan. Despite that it has been captured, burnt, destroyed and rebuilt several times.
The current castle was completed in 1997, and is constructed of concrete in the specifications matching those used during the Edo-era. The new keep contains a history museum, housing over 10,000 artefacts including armour, swords, folding screens, furnishings, lacquerware, and other art pieces. Along with several video and multimedia displays, the museum provides rich information about the castle’s important role in Japanese history, and itss own turbulent, but fascinating, story.
Although the museum and lookout at the top of the keep are fascinating, it’s worthwhile taking the time to explore more of the grounds too. The gates, stone walls, and moat are picturesque - especially when standing in stark contrast to the modern buildings that hug the castle. The grounds still show the strategic design intended to aid in the castle’s defence.
When it was built in 1583, Hideyoshi designed the castle to be easily defensible: a large moat surrounding the entire castle with only two crossings -one of which could be easily destroyed if necessary - and inner grounds within 3 sets of high stone walls to slow down attackers.
However, his military rival Tokugawa Ieyasu seized the castle in 1615, and with it ended the Toyotomi family line. Tokugawa completely overhauled the castle in 1620, making it larger and grander than before. It is this version of the castle that the current reconstruction is based upon.
In 1665 the keep was struck by lightning, burning it to the ground. It wasn’t until 1843 that the castle underwent much-needed repairs, when residents of the region helped fund a project to rebuild several of the turrets. In 1868 the new Meiji government demolished the castle again, using the grounds for military barracks. The castle was rebuilt in 1931, but its use as a military arsenal made it a target during World War II, when it was destroyed yet again.
Surrounding the castle is approximately 106 hectares of open park, which is an excellent spot to escape from the busy city. It’s an incredibly popular cherry-blossom viewing location during that season.