Osaka Castle, or Ōsaka-jō, lies in the Chuo ward and is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. The castle was built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who wanted to model it on Azuchi Castle, but make it even grander and more vast.
He made it so grand, in fact, that the tall turrets have been struck by lightning multiple times over the years and burned to the ground. During the Meiji period the actually became part of the Osaka Army arsenal, creating weapons for the military. Now the castle has been transformed into a museum so you can go and learn about its history, and well as taking a walk around the large grounds.
When I visited, it was a beautiful sunny day and the castle looked stunning in all it’s while-and-gold glory. (Some of these photos are from my phone and don’t do it justice.)
The park surrounding the castle is free to enter, but you can pay 200 yen (roughly £1.60) to visit the inner Nishinomaru Gardens, which used to house the residences of Kita-no-mandokoro, Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wife.
The heat of the day was at its prime when I took a walk around (it was about 26C, despite being October), but the trees provided ample shade, and the atmosphere was wonderfully tranquil.
After visiting the gardens, I went into the castle itself, after being given an English flyer by a nice tour guide who wished me a pleasant stay in Japan (seriously, the people here are so friendly and helpful!)
Now I love museums (I’ve been to three so far and plan on visiting at least another two while I’m here) so I had high hopes for this one. And it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The museum stretches over four (if I remember rightly) floors and has hundreds of artifacts dating back to the Meiji period. There were scrolls, letters written between army general (many from the Siege of Osaka), works of art, samurai armour, traditional Japanese screens and many more items to view and read about.
Basically, I was in my element. Sadly, you weren’t allowed to take photographs on the floors that held these artifacts, but just seeing them and learning about the history of the castle was incredible.
After touring the museum, I went up to the top floor, which consists of a small gift shop and outdoor balcony that stretches around the entire castle. Needless to say, the view was stunning. (The photos below are just a couple of those I took from the top floor.)
It was possible to see for miles in every direction, and the museum had helpfully created maps showing the main landmarks in each direction. I love being up high, so this was blissful for me and the fact that it was such a sunny day made it all the more beautiful.
Having been to two more museums since, this one has definitely been my favourite so far. The history focused on the politics and battles of the warring royal factions and their family lineage, which was just fascinating.
This coupled with numerous artifacts and the stunning view made it a brilliant place to visit, and if you ever have the chance to go I’d 400% recommend.