As one of the most recognizable landmarks in Osaka, the grand Osaka Castle rises high above the ground surrounded by a beautiful park and impressive stone wall.
One of the most iconic landmarks for visitors to Osaka is the grand Osaka Castle. Located in the beautiful Osaka Castle Park, it’s a must-stop for any first-time visitors to the city.
Where is Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is located in the eastern part of the city inside Osaka Castle Park. Since the park covers a large space you can get there via five different stations. If you want to see Otemon Gate (大手門), we recommend exiting the Temmabashi or Tanimachiyonchome Station for a shorter walk.
Osaka Castle Park
There is a fee to get inside Osaka Castle itself (600 yen for adult and free for children 15 and under) but it’s free to roam around the surrounding enormous park. When we visit Nami’s relatives in Osaka, we would sometimes go to the park just to walk around and enjoy the scenery.
Osaka Castle Park is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season with flowers blooming all around the castle.
When the weather is nice, the walk around the park to the castle is relaxing and a nice stroll. However, in the oppressive Japan summer heat, the walk to the castle tower could be brutal. The good news is are electric cars services that will bring you closer to the castle tower (for a fee).
You can ride the electric car near the Lawson’s at the southwest corner of the park. It was a lifesaver for us in 38 ºC heat. The car will drop passengers off near the Sakura-mon gate.
Today, besides the castle tower and ruins, there is also the Osaka-Jo Hall, a baseball field, and a music hall on the park grounds among other facilities.
When you first get to Osaka Castle, one of the first things that will catch your attention is the giant moat and the tall stone wall. The moat varies from 70 – 90 meters in width and the walls are up to 20 meters in height. It is estimated there were more than 500,000 stones used in building the massive wall.
History of Osaka Castle
When you travel around Japan, there are a few significant names that you should be familiar as they appear in many museums, temples, and other historical references. The names are Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, and they are considered the 3 unifiers of Japan.
It’s a very complex relationship between the three but the simple version is both Hideyoshi and Tokugawa were allies of Nobunaga who came very close to unifying Japan. After Nobunaga’s death, Hideyoshi succeeded him and unified Japan.
Later on, Tokugawa eliminated the entire Toyotomi clan and subsequently ruled Japan for over 250 years until imperial rule started in 1868. Osaka Castle’s historical importance is significant as it has ties to all three of the unifiers.
The history of Osaka Castle goes back to 1496 when it was Ishiyama Hongan-ji (石山本願寺), a temple run by a sect of warrior monks and peasants who were opposed to samurai rule. Nobunaga attacked Hongan-ji and after winning the battle set the temple ablaze and burnt it to the ground in 1580.
Constructions of Osaka Castle
In 1583, Toyotomi Hideyoshi started building a grand castle on the ground and completed in 1597 but died the year after. Tokugawa started attacking Hideyoshi’s son at Osaka Castle in 1614 and eventually killed the entire Toyotomi clan and burned the castle down.
Tokugawa Hidetada started reconstruction to the castle and completed in 1620. The castle was burned and destroyed in later years and rebuilt as a concrete replica in 1931. It withstood the bombing during the war and went under a complete restoration in 1995 based on Tokugawa’s design.
Osaka Castle Floor Guide
The castle consists of 8 floors with the entrance on the first floor, along with a museum shop and theater. The second floor contains facts and history of Osaka Castle. The third and fourth floors are about the Sengoku (wartime) Era and Hideyoshi Toyotomi.
The fifth floor is about “The Summer War in Osaka”. The sixth floor is closed to visitors and the seventh floor is about the life of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The observation deck is on the eighth floor.
If you can’t walk up all the way, no worries. The castle is updated so it is wheelchair is accessible up to the observation deck.
When you go through the floors, there is no photography the main exhibitions on the third and fourth floors.
Plaza around Osaka Castle
The plaza area around the castle has the recently opened Miraiza building. It was a former military building that used to be the Osaka City Museum. It is now home to shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Depending on the season, there are sometimes various exhibitions around the castle.
Osaka Museum of History
If you are interested in learning more about Osaka’s rich history, the Osaka Museum of History is located near the southwest corner of Osaka Castle Park.
There are four floors of permanent exhibitions on Osaka’s history on floors 7-10. The 10th floor has a partial replica of Naniwa Palace, the 9th floor is from the time of Nobunaga, the 8th floor offers an excavation experience, and finally, the 7th floor features today’s Osaka.
Thank you for reading our guide on Osaka Castle. Make sure to stop by this landmark that played a significant role during the tumultuous times in Japan’s wartime era in Osaka.