It only took me ten minutes of walking from JR Osakajokoen until I finally saw the tip of the castle from Osaka Park. Yet it was enough to amaze me. Even from afar I could see that the castle boasted impressive gold ornaments and intrinsic detail, making it aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
The symbol of Osaka was built in 1583 on the former site of Ishiyama Honganji Temple, as ordered by Hideyoshi Toyotomi during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period. He was a famous warlord who successfully brought all provinces in Japan under his rule, unifying the nation in 1590.
Every building in the complex remains in their original construction, except the main tower. It was reconstructed in 1931, following the original exterior design from the Toyotomi era. This building consists of 8 floors in total and acts as the centerpiece of the complex.
Once you’ve reached the main tower, you can either take the stairs or the elevator to reach your designated floor. However, if you choose to take the elevator, it will only take you directly to the fifth floor. From hereon, you will have to take another flag of stairs to reach the observation deck on the eighth floor.
The observation deck offers a panoramic view of the Osaka Park and high-rise buildings that surround the area. It was especially breathtaking; you may want to take lots of pictures here.
Afterwards, don’t forget to take the stairs and explore every floor on your way down. The seventh floor is fully dedicated to the life of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and here you can watch a diorama about the famous warlord. The fifth floor shows folding screens and miniatures depicting the Summer War of Osaka. The third and fourth floors are usually reserved for exhibition. However, both floors also showcase historical objects and artifacts relating to the castle and its founder. On the second floor you can learn about the facts and figure of Osaka Castle. You can also try a samurai helmet for the price of ¥300 and have your picture taken. Finally, when you’re back to the first floor, you can visit the museum shop and buy some souvenirs for the people back home.
Once you exit the main tower, take some time to further explore the whole area. It was fun circling the site and looking at the castle from every angle possible. The beautiful gardens surrounding the castle are also not to be missed. It was quite a tiring day, but at least now I understand why the castle is recognized as Special Historic Site by the national government. It’s definitely a must-see!