Paradigmatic Japanese castle in the middle of Osaka28 March, 2012 by Chad
As one of the region’s most prominent castles, Osaka Castle looks like just one of those mandatory sightseeing spots for vistors. Its claim to fame comes from being the seat of power of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of three famous Daimyo (beside Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu) of the Sengoku period and is regarded as the most formidable castle ever in Japan. While little of the original castle building remains in this age (it has seen heavy restoration), the wonderful surroundings do make Osaka Castle a worthwhile visit.
The beauty of Osaka Castle lies in the fact that the entirety of its original grounds has been converted into a park. This is especially impressive when you consider that it covers approximately 60,000 acres. It wouldn’t be possible to explain without this photo by 663h-san. Isolated from the rest of the city by its gigantic moat and with the lush greenery sprouting out of the walls, Osaka Castle looks like something out of one of Studio Ghibli’s animations.
The remainder of the photos here were taken by Wilson during our previous Winter trip to Kansai.
Getting to Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle can be found at the appropriately named Morinomiya (Castle of the Forest) Station. The most likely means of transport to the castle is by the Osaka Subway’s Chuo Line. If you’re coming from central Namba or such, you will need to transfer from the Midosuji Line. For those holding a JR Pass though, there are also a number of stations on the JR Osaka Loop Line surrounding the castle. The trip here will take less than 15 minutes.
While located just beside the station, it takes a 20 minute walk to navigate through the castle defenses to get to the main castle building. There are some great sights to be seen on the way though and we stopped to appreciate the view numerous times, despite being ill prepared for the snow.
Visiting Osaka Castle
Both the transport and entry to Osaka Castle can be covered by the Osaka Unlimited Pass. Otherwise, entry to the castle costs 600 yen. There is also a combination ticket with the nearby Osaka Museum of History for 900 yen. It is open from 9 AM to 7 PM daily.
I would point you toward the castle’s English site, but unfortunately (like the English versions of most Japanese sites) it is horribly outdated and information there is terribly sparse. Instead, you’d be better off trying to make sense of Osaka Castle’s Japanese homepage.
At Osaka Castle
All of the castle’s interior has been modernized and converted into a museum. A lift on the inside takes you up to the top which features an open air observation deck. Though only 8 floors high, the castle is elevated sufficiently enough to get a nice overview of the grounds and part of the surrounding Osaka city.
For safety, the deck is grilled up. There were surprisingly strongs winds at this time of the year and the grills are there to prevent visitor’s stuff from flying off.
From here, you can also get a closer look at some of the golden ornaments adorning Osaka Castle. The ones at Osaka Castle are only coated in gold (the ones at Nagoya Castle use solid gold), but still decorations within reach had to be covered to deter vandals/theft.
They’ve managed to squeeze in a small souvenir shop here at the top and another on the ground floor. While floors 2 to 7 make up the Osaka Castle’s Museum. There are actually a great many things to see here are some rather interesting exhibits.
Photography is generally allowed except on the indicated floors, which house an impressive collection of menuscripts and correspondence between important figures of the time which would be otherwise damaged by the irresponsible use of flash.
While not everyone will be interested, the things on display add some good value to the 600 yen ticket price. And history buffs will no doubt want to spend some time looking through the exhibits.
The first and second floors do look kind of gimmicky though, with its souvenir shop and displays aimed toward tourists. But you can’t blame the castle for trying. Ignore it and it should be fine, unless you are of course interested in that sort of thing. For example, for a price, you can don a Samurai outfit to take a photograph with some of the castle’s golden ornaments.
Photos by Wilson.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.