The Castle dates back more than 400 years. The civil war continued from the middle of the 15th century in Japan and, it was Commander Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who completed the military unification of the country. Osaka Castle was created as its base. Its beautiful design gives it the status of one of the three main castles in Japan. The area around the tower has been developed like a park, and plums and cherry blossoms in spring and red leaves in fall offer magnificent views. When you enter the vast grounds, it feels like you are stepping back in time to the Sengoku (Warring States) era. Osaka prospered as a merchant city for a long time and Osaka Castle can be considered a symbol of this prosperity.
The history of the current Castle is full of twists and turns. Toyotomi Hideyoshi began construction in 1583 and the tower was completed in 1585. However, after Hideyoshi died in 1598, his high-ranking statesman Tokugawa Ieyasu attacked Osaka Castle and destroyed the Toyotomi clan. As Tokyo was the base of the Tokugawa clan, the center of politics moved to Tokyo. The Tokugawa clan rebuilt Osaka Castle. The tower was rebuilt and the spectacular stone wall that exists today was completed. However, less than 40 years later, the tower was set ablaze by lightning. For the next 250 years, Osaka lacked the castle tower. The current tower was rebuilt in 1931 with donations from citizens. It has been designed to mimic the castle tower in the Toyotomi Hideyoshi area. Major renovations were also carried out in 1995 with the intention of adding the orca and tiger relief and restoring the castle tower to its former glory. The most impressive structure in the castle is the keep. In 2017, it was visited by more than 2.7 million people, more than any other Japanese castle in recent years.
An observation deck surrounds the eighth floor, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Osaka and its surroundings. Visitors generally climb this platform first and use the stairs to descend to the lower levels of the tower. This can mean a long line for the elevator to go up, so taking the reverse course can save time and ease the strain of waiting. It is best to start by viewing the exhibits on the first floor and climbing the stairs to each successive level before reaching the top of the fortress. After enjoying the wonderful view, it is possible to go down in the elevator with minimal wait.
For first-time visitors to Japan’s Kansai region, Osaka Castle is an absolutely must-see destination. It is a perfect half day trip where you can appreciate both the serene nature, in the many areas full of beautiful trees, and marvel at the rich and intriguing history of Osaka.